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Bandits come close in Denver

The Buffalo Bandits probably think of Saturday night’s 15-14 overtime loss to the Colorado Mammoth as a missed opportunity.

With a win, the Bandits would have been 2-0. That would have been good for first place in the National Lacrosse League’s East Division, a half-game ahead of Rochester and New England.

What’s more, Buffalo would have been two games up on the 0-2 Toronto Rock, which already has dropped games to divisional rivals in Rochester and New England. Even though it’s a long 18-game season, getting an early cushion on last year’s NLL playoff finalist would have been a great start to this year.

Alas, the Bandits fell a goal short in overtime in a very even game.

The game was tied after one period, and tied at halftime. Colorado led by a goal after three periods, and the score obviously was tied at the end of regulation.

Both sides came close to scoring before the Mammoth finally ended the suspense. Callum Crawford tried a stuff shot on the right side, only to be denied by goalie Anthony Cosmo. Mike Burke of Colorado caught the rebound behind the net, circled around to the slot, and took a shot through traffic that found the top corner.

The shots on goal were tied at 55, as Dillon Ward of the Mammoth and Cosmo both had some good moments in a high scoring game. Both teams also had three power-play goals.

Dhane Smith was the leading scorer for the Bandits, as he finished with three goals and five assists on an impressive 14 shots. Ryan Benesch had two goals and four assists, while Mark Steenhuis had four goals - including his 400th NLL tally.

Adam Jones, who played his college lacrosse at Canisius, had a huge game for the Mammoth. He scored five goals in the first half alone, and finished with six goals plus two assists. Jones has the league lead in goals with 13 in three games. John Grant Jr. had three goals and three assists. Crawford finished with nine assists.

The Bandits will return home next Saturday night, and will play an East Division opponent for the first time this season in the Rock.