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Live from HSBC Arena: Bandits vs. Blazers

7:03 p.m. -- Hello from downtown. We're ready for some playoff lacrosse, as the Bandits host the Boston Blazers.

I talked to Bandits' coach Darris Kilgour this morning, and asked him if he had any idea what to expect tonight. He said none. If Buffalo plays like it did in the last two home games, it will be time to roll up the carpet. Boston has been a gigantic puzzle this season, but it's tough to know if it can turn it on for the playoffs. I guess this is why they play the games.

No surprises in the lineup. Frank Resetarits and Kyle Clancy are the scratches. Resetarits looked rusty last week after several months off with an injury. Travis Irving and Darryl Gibson are in the lineup today.

Brandon Francis is still under suspension. He has two more games to serve ... at some point.

This probably will be the smallest crowd of the season. It's tough to sell tickets in a short time, as the Bandits weren't even sure when the game would be two weeks ago. Still, most teams in the league would envy 13,000 to 14,000.

7:28 p.m. -- Sabretooth, in a Bandits' shirt, has roped down the field. Feels like we're about ready to go. By the way, there were fewer Mohawks on display in the locker room today. I remember in Toronto last season, many of the players had them.

7:41 p.m. -- Brett Bucktooth is back in the lineup tonight. He missed last week's game because of the death of an uncle.

7:45 p.m. -- Buffalo is off to a good start. Mark Steenhuis has the only goal of the game with 5:08 gone, and Mike Thompson has made a couple of good stops on goal.

7:54 p.m. -- The Bandits added a goal by Roger Vyse, but gave up a power-play goal to Boston. Now Tom Montour is in the penalty box, so the Blazers have a chance to get back to level.

8:00 p.m. -- This was a relatively uneventful first period. Buffalo exits with a 2-1 lead, and it was a fairly deliberate quarter.

8:11 p.m. -- These teams seem to be in a hurry. Not many stoppages so far, and no goals in the second quarter. Thompson has had the tougher saves in the first 21 minutes.

8:19 p.m. -- Buffalo and Boston have doubled the score in the last few minutes, which is good news from a Bandits' standpoint. Vyse had a nice goal from fairly long range, slinging the ball in while getting checked from behind. John Tavares had the other goal. We have 4:44 left in the half.

8:24 p.m. -- Vyse is having one of his best halves of the season. He has three goals, all lasers from outside. Tracey Kelusky just made it 6-3 with a score, although the play is being reviewed. Kelusky jumped from behind the net to stuff the ball in an open corner.

8:29 p.m. - The Kelusky goal did count, and Chad Culp added another score as the Bandits are up, 7-3.

8:32 p.m. -- Buffalo heads to the locker room with a 7-4 lead after giving up a power-play goal in the last minute. Four goals in a half? Mighty good work against these guys.

8:53 p.m. -- We're back in action, and Casey Powell has cut the Buffalo lead to 7-5. ... At least until I started typing this. Vyse got his fourth to restore the three-goal lead.

8:58 p.m. -- Steenhuis added his second of the night to make it 9-5, Buffalo. Vyse, by the way, had three goals on three shots in the first half.

9:08 p.m. -- We have four minutes left in the half, with the score 9-5. The winner of this one plays the winner of Rochester-Toronto, which will be played tomorrow afternoon in Toronto. I didn't like the way the Rock finished down the stretch, while the Knighthawks do have some talent. I'm picking Rochester to win that one, although I wouldn't exactly take it to the bank.

9:14 p.m. -- The Bandits hava a 9-5 lead after three quarters. Boston looks a little flat at the moment, and needs a spark and soon in order to have any hope of getting back in this one.

9:31 p.m. -- No scoring to report, but that's good from a Buffalo standpoint. There are five minutes left, and Boston is still down by four goals.

9:37 p.m. -- Boston has struck for three goals. Buffalo's lead is down to 10-9. Hmmm.

9:44 p.m. -- The Blazers tied it (Kevin Buchanan), but Tavares scored with 39 seconds left to put Buffalo ahead, 11-10. We have 6.6 seconds left, and Boston has the ball. This turned into quite a ride.

9:45 p.m -- One last save by Thompson wins it, 11-10. Wow.

11:25 p.m. -- That certainly was a thriller for anyone who watched the game. You just have to figure out a way to get to the next round, and the Bandits did that. They also played quite well for 55 minutes, when Boston pulled its goalie and the Bandits had trouble getting the ball. But Tavares came through, as he so often has done over the years. Be sure to check out my game story to read his version of what happened.

Elsewhere, Washington went on the road and beat Minnesota, while Calgary moved on with a win over Colorado. So Calgary will host the defending champions on Saturday. The Bandits get the Rochester-Toronto winnner next Saturday night in HSBC Arena. The winners play the following week.

Let's do it all over again in a week.

--- Budd Bailey

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