BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The National Lacrosse League will crown its champion on Saturday night in Banditland after the defending champion Colorado Mammoth won 16-10 on Monday at Ball Arena in Denver to even the best-of-three championship series.

The top-seeded Bandits won the opening game of the series 13-12 this past Saturday night in Buffalo as they pursue a fifth championship in franchise history, and first in 15 years. The Bandits are playing in their third consecutive NLL finals and fourth in six postseasons since 2016.

Coloardo came back to win the NLL Cup in Buffalo last year after losing Game 1 at KeyBank Center. This season’s championship finals have so far followed in that pattern, with the Mammoth winning their seventh elimination game in a row to prevent a Bandits sweep.

Buffalo entered Monday’s close-out opportunity on a seven-game win streak dating to the end of the regular season, and averaged 16 goals in four playoff victories. The six-goal margin of defeat in Game 2 was the Bandits’ largest in 27 playoff games since 2009.

The Bandits’ championship hopes could hinge on the health of Josh Byrne. The leading scorer in the East playoffs with 11 goals, Byrne has missed both NLL Finals games with an upper-body injury and his status for the decisive Game 3 is unclear.

Tehoka Nanticoke scored four goals for the Bandits in Game 2, and reigning MVP Dhane Smith tallied eight points (two goals, six assists). Goaltender Matt Vince stopped 42 of 57 shots he faced. Buffalo netted the first two goals of the game before allowing the Mammoth get even by the end of the opening quarter and build an 8-5 lead by halftime.

Ryan Lee (four goals, three assists) and Eli McLaughlin (three goals, four assists) led the Mammoth attack, while Western New York native Zed Williams (Silver Creek) had two goals and four assists.

The Mammoth outshot the Bandits 59-48 and converted on five of 11 power plays. The Bandits scored on each of their four chances with an extra attacker.


Jonah Bronstein joined the WIVB squad in 2022 as a digital sports reporter. The Buffalonian has covered the Bills, Sabres, Bandits, Bisons, colleges, high schools and other notable sporting events in Western New York since 2005, for publications including The Associated Press, The Buffalo News, and Niagara Gazette. Read more of his work here.