DENVER, CO (WIVB) — Home field advantage has prevailed so far in the NLL Finals as the Bandits lost in Game 2 to the Mammoth in Colorado, 11-8, after Buffalo won game one in front of Banditland a week ago.
Now, they’re hoping that trend continues as the series shifts back to KeyBank Center for a winner-take-all Game 3 for the championship next Saturday.
It was a little bit of a slow start for the Bandits in game two as they trailed 2-0 but really came alive in the second quarter scoring five straight goals to take a 5-2 lead thanks to Chris Cloutier’s power play goal. The Bandits led 6-4 at halftime then 7-6 at the end of the third quarter.
They came out strong to start the final 15 minutes as Kyle Buchanan scooped up the rebound and scored to make it 8-6 in favor of Buffalo.
But it was a meltdown after that for the Bandits as Colorado scored five unanswered goals to close out the game. We’ve all heard the phrase “lacrosse is a game of runs” and that was on full display in this one as the Mammoth use it to their advantage to beat Buffalo 11-8 and force a deciding game three next Saturday.
Dhane Smith, Chris Cloutier and Josh Byrne all ended with two goals each.
And even though the game was on the road, fans gathered in Buffalo at The Draft House to watch the game. The energy was high even before gametime. Festivities kicked off at 7 pm with lawn games, DJ Milk, prizes and a special appearance by Bandits mascot, Rax.
Despite the loss, fans say they are excited for a title run. The last time the Bandits brought home the league title was in 2008 and many say this team is something special.
“I haven’t seen one Bandits fall to Mammoth in Game 2; will host deciding Game 3 for NLL Title in forever it feels like. I know it’s been over a decade,” Jared Rupp said.
Others added that it was great to gather together to watch this team try to win a title for Buffalo. They said its not only the Bandits’ year, but it could also be a strong year for the Buffalo Bills.
“The two [fanbases] marry together. The Bills are coming to Banditland Saturday nights. We’ve seen some of the Buffalo Bills there. It’s so cool that the city is embracing all of this together,” Joe Rupp added.
No matter what, Buffalo is looking for a championship next Saturday on home turf.
“I feel like we’ve been cut short. The Bills are getting good now. We’re hoping the Sabres get better, so it’s nice to have a good Buffalo team to get behind right now.
The Bandits will host thet Colorado Mammoth next Saturday, June 18 at Keybank Center at 7:30 p.m.
Heather Prusak is a sports reporter who joined the News 4 team in 2020. See more of her work here.
Tara Lynch is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as a reporter in 2022. She previously worked at WETM in Elmira, N.Y., a sister station of News 4. You can follow Tara on Facebook and Twitter and find more of her work here.