Bandits Beat Desert Dogs To Clinch Home Playoff Game

Eduardo Curros – Pacific Correspondent, All Lacrosse All The Time

The Buffalo Bandits faced the Las Vegas Desert Dogs at Michelob Ultra Arena Saturday night. Despite already being eliminated form playoff contention, the game had extra meaning for the Desert Dogs, who hosted Tucker Out Lymphoma night in honor of Tucker Williams, late son of coach Shawn Williams. With a win, the Bandits could move back into a top 4 seeding and get a first round home playoff game in the process. Dhane Smith had a record setting night, and hat tricks from Tehoka Nanticoke and Josh Byrne paved the way to a 14-5 victory. The Bandits improved to 11-7, and clinched the #4 seed; they will host Georgia in the first round of the playoffs next week. Las Vegas finishes the season 5-13, tied with Colorado at the bottom of the Unified Standings.

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Late flurry puts Bandits up at halftime

Josh Byrne got things started at 11:37 with help from Dhane Smith and Brandon Robinson. However, Vegas tied the game at 13:28 on a quick shot from Connor Kirst with assists from Tor Reinholdt and Adrian Sorichetti. The Desert Dogs took a 2-1 lead early in the second quarter on a power play goal from Casey Jackson 1:33. Buffalo then put together a three-goal run, starting at 10:03 with Chase Fraser on a power play. Robinson followed-up at 12:09, assisted by Smith and Byrne, then Byrne with another power play goal at 13:41, assisted by Smith. Jack Hannah cut the lead to 4-3 at 14:02, but Byrne fired in his third goal of the game with just 3 seconds left on the clock, giving the Bandits a 5-3 lead at halftime.

Bandits pull away in second half

Buffalo took the game and ran with it in the third. Tehoka Nanticoke scored back-to-back goals at 2:08 and 4:30 to make it 7-3. Robinson scored his second at 5:36, then Nanticoke added his third on a power play at 7:18. Kyle Buchanan followed with a power play goal at 9:53 with assists from Smith and Byrne to put the Bandits up 10-3 with 15 minutes left to play. Las Vegas cut the lead to 10-5 in the fourth quarter on goals from Rob Hellyer on a power play at 0:51 and Sean Westley at 5:01. But the Bandits poured it on late, as Smith scored at 5:12 and again at 5:36. Nick Weiss then scored at 9:06, followed by Adam Bomberry 11 seconds later to close out the game.

Curros’s Corner

Smith finished with two goals and 10 assists on the night, which gave him 101 assists for the season, a new NLL record. He is the first player in history to break the 100 mark.

Byrne’s three-goal, six assist night gave him 135 points for the season, tops in the league, and just two points shy of the all-time single season record held by Smith.

Las Vegas became just the fourth team in NLL history to fail to score 13 or more goals in a game for the entire season.

“Muffler” Mike Kostiuk

“Muffler” Mike Kostiuk was formally introduced to box lacrosse when he attended a New England Black Wolves game on a whim in 2016. Instantly hooked, he has since become an avid follower of the National Lacrosse League. Following the postponement of the 2019-2020 NLL season, he was offered the chance to share his wealth of statistical knowledge and unique insights with the lacrosse community at large. He cheerfully accepted, and covers NLL, PLL, WLA, and Major Series Lacrosse for the network.