Mitch Jones scored his fifth goal of the game at 3:44 of sudden death overtime Friday night, giving the Buffalo Bandits a 19-18 win over the Saskatchewan Rush, the defending National Lacrosse League champion, before 10,433 at the Sasktel Centre in Saskatoon.
Jones was not the only hero for the Bandits. Goalie David DiRuscio stopped a penalty shot by Robert Church with 32 seconds left and the score tied to give Buffalo the chance to win it in OT and improve their record to 5-4 on the NLL season. The Rush is 4-3.
The penalty shot was called because of too-many-men on the field by the Bandits.
The Bandits led most of the second half after they scored four in a row in the third quarter to take the largest lead of the game, 16-12. Then the Rush began to chip away.
Jones scored to make it 18-16 just under the 5-minute mark, after consecutive goals by Church had cut the lead to one. Jarrett Davis quickly answered the Jones tally to make it 18-17 and it stayed that way going into the final minute. The Rush tied it on a goal by Church with 35 seconds left, setting up the final drama.
Saskatchewan led most of the first half but never by more than two.
Dhane Smith had four first-half goals for Buffalo while Ryan Benesch had four tallies.
DiRuscio did not start the game. He replaced Anthony Cosmo in goal after the Rush had taken a 3-1 lead in the first quarter. DiRuscio stopped 38 of the 52 shots he faced in 55 minutes and 52 seconds.