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Bandits top Toronto, advance to face Calgary for NLL championship

The Buffalo Bandits have landed in the National Lacrosse League championship series.

The Bandits fought off a second-half Toronto comeback and outscored the Rock, 4-1, over the last 9 minutes and 35 seconds Saturday night for a 12-8 win in the East Division playoff championship game at KeyBank Center.

Buffalo will face the West Division winner Calgary Roughnecks in the best-of-three NLL championship series which will open at 7:30 p.m. next Saturday at KeyBank Center. Game Two will be at 9 p.m. (Buffalo time) at Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary on Saturday, May 25. A third game, if needed, will be back at KeyBank Center Friday, May 31.

Chase Fraser scored both of his goals in the winning rally after Toronto had closed the margin to 8-7, on two goals by Adam Jones 3:00 into the final period.

Fraser scored at 5:25 with the help of defender Steve Priolo’s fourth assist of the game. A tally by Shawn Evans and another by Fraser with 4:34 to play forced the Rock into desperation.

With goalie Nick Rose out of the net, Kevin Brownell scored to make it 12-7 and all that was left was Toronto’s Jones to added a meaningless extra-attacker goal with 1:30 left.

The Bandits trailed only once in the game, 3-2, and just for 15 seconds. Challen Rogers snapped a 2-2 tie with a score at 8:49 of the second period. Corey Small got that one back quickly for the Bandits, who went on to lead 6-3 at halftime.

Small had three goals for Buffalo while Fraser and Evans had two each. Evans also had a pair of assists, one on Fraser’s second goal which was a killer for the Rock. Besides Brownell, Bryce Sweeting, Matt Spangers and Dhane Smith had single tallies for Buffalo. Smith had four assists for a five-point game to lead the Bandits. Thomas Hoggarth added three assists to the cause The Bandits picked up six 2-minute penalties, four of which were assessed to Mitch DeSnoo, including a double-minor which led to one of the Toronto goals in the third quarter run.

Toronto’s Jones was involved in all four goals in a 4-0 run that had the KeyBank Center crowd a little nervous in the second half. He scored twice and assisted on the other two. It was an seven-point night for Jones, who had three assists to go with his four goals. Rogers had two goals for the Rock while Brock Sorensen and Kieran McArdle had single tallies.

Buffalo goalie Matt Vinc made 43 saves while Rose of the Rock had 45 stops. The Bandits had a slight advantage 13-11 in faceoffs.

Buffalo and Calgary met just once in the NLL regular season. The Bandits gained a 12-10 victory at KeyBank Center, scoring the last two goals. Calgary led, 9-8, entering the final period.

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