It all comes down to Saturday night.
The Buffalo Bandits will return to KeyBank Center to host the Colorado Mammoth for a deciding Game 3 of the NLL Finals at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are on sale now. The game can be seen locally on The CW 23. It will stream live on ESPN+ and fans can also tune in to the radio call on WGR 550 or the Audacy app.
With a win, the Bandits would claim their fifth championship in franchise history and their first since 2008.
Banditland. Winner-take-all. Game 3. 🔥
— Buffalo Bandits (@NLLBandits) June 2, 2023
The Bandits took a 1-0 series lead last Saturday after a 13-12 victory in Buffalo, but Colorado evened things up Monday afternoon with a 16-10 decision at Ball Arena.
A key factor in the Bandits’ first loss of the postseason was the number of penalties they committed. Buffalo garnered a total of 17 penalties throughout the game, a postseason high for the squad. Colorado scored five power-play goals.
“We had a good start, we added some power-play goals,” head coach John Tavares, who starred on all four of Buffalo’s championship teams and is now looking to win his first title from behind the bench, said after Game 2. “All of a sudden we just took penalty after penalty after penalty after penalty.”
Saturday night will provide an opportunity to wipe the slate clean in the winner-take-all matchup.
The Bandits’ potent offense has been a catalyst for their success this year. Forward Dhane Smith has carried the baton for Buffalo this postseason with a league-high 40 points (13+27).
Josh Byrne has missed both games of the NLL Finals due to injury and others have stepped up in his place. Chris Cloutier (27 points), Kyle Buchanan (21 points) and Tehoka Nanticoke (20 points) have been big contributors for Buffalo this postseason.
UPDATE (Saturday, 12:05 p.m.) – Byrne has been activated from injured reserve and will play in Game 3. Dylan Robinson has been placed on injured reserve.
🚨 ANNOUNCEMENT 🚨
— NLL (@NLL) June 3, 2023
Nanticoke has nine points (7+2) in the NLL Finals.
“It doesn’t surprise me how good he’s playing,” Tavares said. “He’s a phenomenal lacrosse player, especially at finishing.”
Come party with us in the plaza before Game 3! 🎉
— Buffalo Bandits (@NLLBandits) June 1, 2023
Last year, Buffalo also had a 1-0 series lead against the Mammoth in the championship round. Colorado rallied to win both of the remaining games. The Bandits are well aware of the past.
“It’s a one game series now. We’re in the same predicament now that we were in literally 365 days ago,” Tavares said. “If you ask anybody on our team, one year ago if we had the opportunity to play them one game again for a championship, I’m sure we’d have taken it.”