Buffalo Wins Game 2, Secures Back to Back NLL Championships – 5/18/2024

Justin Ivey, Co-Editor
Lacrosse is Awesome©

Photo Courtesy of Buffalo Bandits

The Buffalo Bandits hosted the Albany Firewolves on Saturday night for the NLL Finals Game 2.  Hoping to force Game 3 after dropping Friday night’s game in Albany, the Firewolves did get big nights from rookie Alex Simmons (3G, 4A) and forward Sam Firth (5G, 2A).  The Bandits showed championship poise throughout the game and established an early lead with various goal-scorers in the first half.  Playing with the lead nearly the whole game, Buffalo held off a fourth-quarter rally from the visitors and hoisted the Championship Cup for the second season in a row.  Final Score:  Albany-13, Buffalo-15.

The Buffalo Bandits opened the scoring in Game 2 much to the pleasure of the hometown fans.  Kyle Buchanan (1G, 2A) put a backside underhand shovel past Doug Jamieson (36SV) as he ran past the crease.  The goal came while Buffalo was shorthanded, their seventh such goal of this playoffs.  Buffalo did successfully last out the penalty, but with 10:06 remaining Albany responded with a goal from Patrick Kaschalk (1G) in transition.  Buffalo responded swiftly with a three-goal unanswered run.  Dhane Smith (2G, 5A) stepped into a massive shot coming from the bench and restored the lead with 7:04 left.  31 seconds later, Brandon Robinson (2G) caught a beautiful feed from Josh Byrne (1G, 8A) after a pick and roll before jumping across the crease and bouncing in the ball.  Tehoka Nanticoke (2G, 1A) rounded the run off with a powerplay goal just over two minutes later.  With 4:14 remaining, Buffalo led 4-1.  The Firewolves finished the first quarter strong.  Simmons scored his first of the game with 3:55 remaining and Firth buried a powerplay goal with just three seconds remaining.  At the end of the first quarter, Buffalo led Albany 4-3.

The Bandits turned the tide to start the second quarter, putting together another multi-goal run. This time though, it was a four-goal.  Nanticoke opened the scoring just 53 seconds in, backing his way to the middle of the offensive zone before rolling off his defender for a free shot.  Chase Fraser (5G, 2A) scored next in transition with 10:46 remaining.  He scored the fourth goal of the run too with 9:28 remaining, 30 seconds after Chris Cloutier (2G, 3A) notched his first.  The Firewolves finally found the back of the net with another Simmons goal and 8:33 remaining.  Unfortunately, Cloutier responded 45 seconds later.  With 7:48 remaining, Buffalo led Albany 9-4.  Albany again fought back at the end of the quarter.  Firth scored two in a row before Travis Longboat (3G, 1A) scored on a set play with Jamieson removed for an extra runner and one second left on the clock.  At the half, Buffalo led Albany 9-7.

Buffalo came out of the halftime locker room with their heads set on clamping down defensively.  They looked poised to run away with the game as they outscored Albany 5-1 in the third quarter.  Longboat scored first, getting Albany back within one just 2:32 in.  The Bandits’ defense and Matt Vinc (36SV) turned away every opportunity that followed, and the offense settled into a beautiful pace.  Smith scored with 11:08 remaining, driving to the net and running through the crease.  Fraser scored two in a row before Byrne scored with an outside jump shot during a 4-on-4 and 6:11 remaining.  Fraser scored his third of the quarter with a hidden ball trick involving Byrne to round it out with 5:41 left.  At the end of the third quarter, Buffalo led Albany 14-8.

Albany put up a fight in the fourth quarter.  Firth scored with a sidearm laser just 1:03 in.  Unfortunately, Robinson answered on a powerplay just under two minutes later giving the Bandits a 15-9 lead.  Two quick goals followed for Albany.  Longboat completed his hat trick, scoring from up top before Simmons scored diving across the crease with 10:01 remaining.  The Buffalo defense tightened up, but Tye Kurtz (1G, 3A) found a goal on a powerplay with 2:39 remaining.  Albany was now down only three.  Unfortunately, they couldn’t force anything quick to happen and Firth scored with eight seconds remaining to bring us to the final.  Final Score:  Albany-13, Buffalo-15.