Just one year ago, a small pocket of Colorado Mammoth players and staff gathered on the field of KeyBank Center to celebrate their championship victory over the Buffalo Bandits in Game 3 of the 2022 NLL Finals.
Life doesn’t always offer second chances, but luckily for the Bandits, their hard work throughout the 2023 season has put them on a collision course with the Mammoth once again for the top prize in lacrosse.
On Saturday, Buffalo will host Colorado in Game 1 of an NLL Finals rematch.
Faceoff for the first game of the best-of-three is scheduled for 7 p.m. The game can also be seen on ESPN2 and ESPN+ with radio coverage on WGR 550 and Audacy.com.
A Party in the Plaza featuring live music, food and drinks, and appearances by Rax and the Bandettes will begin at 5 p.m. Click here for more details.
— Buffalo Bandits (@NLLBandits) May 25, 2023
The Bandits are playing in their third consecutive NLL Finals dating back to 2019 and seeking their first championship since 2008. The Finals were not played in 2020 or 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They’re seeking their first championship since 2008.
After finishing the regular season with a 14-4 record and entering the playoffs as the NLL’s top seed, the Bandits maneuvered their way through the Rochester Knighthawks in the single-elimination quarterfinal and swept the Toronto Rock in the best-of-three East Conference Finals.
“We’ve got three games to win two” Bandits forward Josh Byrne said. “At the end of the day, it’s just focusing on the little details of the individual games.
Byrne is currently tied with forward Chris Cloutier for the team lead in playoff goals with 11. Tehoka Nanticoke (7), Dhane Smith (6), Kyle Buchanan (4) and Chase Fraser (4) have also led the club’s offensive efforts. Byrne (11+15) and Smith (6+20) are tied in scoring with an NLL-best 26 playoff points.
UPDATE (Saturday, 1:45 p.m.) – Byrne has been placed on injured reserve and will not play. Dylan Robinson has been added to the active roster.
Colorado, the fourth seed in the West, advanced to the Finals with a 9-7 victory over Calgary in Game 3 of the West Conference Finals on Saturday.
Saturday’s bout will not be the first time that Buffalo and Colorado have crossed paths this season. Colorado escaped KeyBank Center with a 13-8 victory back in March.
“I think that we game-planned around them instead of game-planning around ourselves to be successful,” Smith said. “We need to dictate the pace and how we want to play. They need to make adjustments to us instead of us making adjustments to them.”
Smith, who was named to the NLL’s First-Team All-League on Friday, finished his regular season with 112 points (36+96), which led the team and ranked second in the league, only to the New York Riptide’s Jeff Teat.
Captain Steve Priolo was named Second-Team All-League for the third-straight season.
— Buffalo Bandits (@NLLBandits) May 26, 2023
“It’s very important to get that first win in this type of series, and having home field advantage is huge,” Smith said. “We’re looking forward to the challenge. It’s not going to be easy; they’re not going to give it to us, but we’re excited to be home in Banditland for it.”
Game 2 of the series will be played at 4 p.m. on Monday at Ball Arena in Colorado. If necessary, Game 3 will take place back in Buffalo on Saturday, June 3 at 7:30 p.m.