Regardless of the sport, when Buffalo and Toronto play it never disappoints.
“We don’t like them, they don’t like us,” said Bandits lacrosse star Dhane Smith. “A lot of us are Canadian so we grew up either watching Buffalo or Toronto, so we know it’s a big rival. It’s just another game at the end of the day so we’re lucky to have it at home in front of our fans, so we’re excited about the opportunity.”
“There’s nothing like it,” added Josh Byrne on the rivalry. “We hate each other. It’s going to be a bloodbath out there and definitely looking forward to it.”
The Bandits and Rock will square of for a fourth time this season, when the two teams hit the turf for the East Division Final on Saturday at KeyBank Center. The winner advances to the National Lacrosse Team Championship where they were play Calgary or Colorado.
“It’s awesome anytime you can play in front of your fans, especially in Buffalo” added Smith. “We’re looking forward to it. They’ve been our 7th man all year. They’ve been behind us. Playing in Banditland, there’s nothing else like it.”
Toronto won two of the three matchups during the regular season, including a 17-12 win in Buffalo in late December.
Buffalo bounced back with an 8-6 win in March before dropping a 12-11 overtime decision in early April.
“I think it goes without saying they have our number this season,” said Byrne. “For us to get back at them and take a shot at them, it’ll be a good one.”
The Bandits are back in the East Final for the first time since 2016 and are in the hunt for their first league championship since 2008.
“Very nervous about it but very excited about it,” Smith said. “It’s been since 2016 since we’ve been to the Final. Anytime we can get back there, it’s pretty nerve-wracking but pretty excited.”