BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Bandits will have one of their most important players back in the lineup for the most important game of the season.

Top scoring forward Josh Byrne was activated from injured reserve prior to Saturday night’s decisive third game of the National Lacrosse League Finals in Buffalo.

Byrne, who led the Bandits with 11 goals and 26 points during three playoff victories, missed the first two games of the championship series with an upper-body injury sustained in the East Conference finals clinching win in Hamilton, Ontario three weeks ago.

“He’s getting better day by day,” Bandits coach John Tavares said before Byrne practiced with the Bandits on Friday. “He’s going to practice tonight and see how it goes. … After practice, how does he feel? Get up in the morning, see how he feels, and the pregame see how it is.”

The Bandits placed Byrne on IR prior to Game 1 this past Saturday after he tested his injury recovery during practice the night before. Buffalo won the opening game in the series 13-12, and Byrne was not sufficiently recovered in time to join the Bandits on the road for Game 2, which the Colorado Mammoth won 16-10.

Byrne appeared healthy and ready to make his return during Friday night’s practice at KeyBank Center.

Tavares sounded hopeful that the Bandits will get their leading goal scorer back for the final game in their NLL Cup pursuit.

“At least there is a chance,” Tavares said. “It’s not 100% out. So that’s good.”

The Bandits are seeking their fifth championship in franchise history. They last won in 2008, having lost in the Finals in three of the past five postseasons. Colorado won last year’s NLL Cup with a deciding game victory in Buffalo.


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.