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Live from First Niagara Center: Bandits vs. Knighthawks

7:01 p.m. - Here it is, the last night of the regular season for the Buffalo Bandits, and we still don't know what's in store for them in the immediate future.

Yes, unlike last year, we know they will be in the playoffs. They will finish either second or third in the NLL East. But where? Second puts them at home a week from tonight against the Toronto Rock. Third puts them in Toronto, except at 7 p.m. instead of 7:30 p.m.

In case you are wondering if two teams with non-winning records have ever met in the NLL playoffs, it didn't me long to find an example of that. Rochester and Philadelphia were both 7-9 in 2012 when the playoffw opened. Toronto and Buffalo are both 8-9.

Now ... Toronto is playing in Minnesota at 8 p.m. If Buffalo wins or Toronto loses, the Bandits are home next week. Otherwise ... it's up the QEW.

Not much news at practice this morning. Troy Cordingley indicated that Andrew Watt would be in the lineup tonight. But something changed between then and now. He is listed as a scratch. Aaron Wilson is said to be on injured reserve. Kevin Brownell is still in the lineup - he was supposed to sit for Watt. It looks like Jamie Rooney was activated but scratched, based on the lineup sheet.

Joel Matthews gets to play game number two tonight. He debuted last week, and played pretty well against Rochester.

It looks like a very good crowd tonight, probably the best of the season. It is Fan Appreciation Night.

7:10 p.m. - And if you were hoping the Knighthawks might give Matt Vinc an extra week off by starting someone else in goal tonight, no such luck. He is the listed starter. Vinc was brilliant last week in beating the Bandits.

7:21 p.m. - Anthony Cosmo will get the start in goal again for the Bandits. If you are wondering, and I did, Kurtis Wagar has played in two games this season, for a total of 20 minutes. It's tough backing up the team's MVP, but Wagar has maintained his good sense of humor.

7:32 p.m. - Come to think of it, in 2013, Rochester played Philadelphia last year in the first round of the playoffs ... and neither side had a winning record. Rochester was 8-8; Philadelphia was 7-9.

7:38 p.m. - One obvious thought about tonight's game - easy to wonder if this could be - could be - the last game in Buffalo for John Tavares. We'll have to see, of course.

7:45 p.m. - Bandits have gotten off to a poor start. It's 4-0, Rochester after less than five minutes. Ugh.

8:00 p.m. - Rochester takes 6-3 lead with 3:41 left in period. Cosmo has been chased; he wasn't playing well but didn't get much help.

8:03 p.m. - And now it's 6-4. Buffalo has equalled its goal total for the entire game last week. It's going to be one of those nights.

8:07 p.m. - That's the way it winds up after the first period. Joel Matthews had his first NLL goal late in the period for Buffalo.

8:11 p.m. - Building have some searchlights that come on in different colors tonight. Looks like disco has returned. In other news, Cosmo came back on the field for the start of the second quarter.

8:19 p.m. - Bandits tied it up on goal by Resetarits - 6-6. Shots are 23-13.

8:26 p.m. - Knighthawks get three in a row to lead, 9-6. This is a little like the old days, with lots of scoring and up-and-down play.

8:30 p.m. - Matthews cuts the lead to 9-7, and now there's 3:38 left in the period. My guess is that the place is about full.

8:35 p.m. - Toronto and Minnesota are tied, 1-1, late first quarter.

8:38 p.m. - Rochester's Sid Smith steals the ball with 15 seconds left, and scores into a vacated net - Buffalo had pulled Cosmo in anticipation of setting up the last shot. Never seen that before, in six years.  Rochester exits with a 10-9 lead at half. Off to do a radio interview on 1520 AM with John Gurtler.

8:56 p.m. - Third period starts. Toronto leads, 4-2, late second.

9:01 p.m. - Power-play goal by Benesch ties the game again at 10-10. Toronto leads Minnesota, 4-2, with less than a minute in the half. Rock has taken 35 shots.

9:09 p.m. - Rochester goes back up, 12-10, on two goals by Johnny Powless.

9:17 p.m. - Steenhuis' completed hat trick cut the margin to 12-11 with one quarter left.

9:24 p.m. - Two short-handed goals by the Knighthawks on the same penalty. Ouch. That's bigger than huge in that situation. It's 14-11, Rochester, with 12:13 to play.

9:34 p.m. - It's not 16-11 Rochester, with 6:06 left.

9:40 p.m. - Buffalo strikes twice to cut it to three. 3:05 left.

9:45 p.m. - 16-14, Rochester, with 1:02 left.

9:49 p.m. - Rochester wins, 16-14.

--- Budd Bailey


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