After two absolutely phenomenal semi-final series, we have our 2022 championship round set. The Buffalo Bandits will face the Colorado Mammoth. Game one is this Saturday night June 4th, at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo, NY.
How We Got Here:
In a slam banging two game sweep, the Buffalo Bandits outlasted the Toronto Rock 18-17, and 10-9 with both games literally coming down to the final second. Game one was a wild affair, with thirty five goals being scored, while game two was much more of a defensive battle with just nineteen goals scored. The series showed athleticism, toughness, sheer skill and talent, as well as character on both sides. These teams showed exactly why they finished first, and second in the league standings.
The Colorado Mammoth had to play the series without their offensive leader Ryan Lee. Just before game one he was put on the injured reserve, where he still remains today. This series had everything. Highlight reel goals, ridiculous saves, and an inner fortitude from both teams that had everyone on the edge of their seats until the final horn of game three. Game two was even determined by overtime. While Dane Dobbie, Wes Berg, and Austin Staats had a good series for San Diego, the combination of Zed Williams, Connor Robinson, and Eli McLaughlin really stepped their game up to bring the Mammoth to victory. Eli McLaughlin had back to back sock-tricks (6 goals) leading the Mammoth to their best of three victory 2-1.
Buffalo has been the class of the league all year, leading the standings from wire to wire. Colorado had some growing pains early, but with veteran guidance, the youth of the team was able to gel, becoming the juggernaut who will face the Bandits in just a few days.
How They Match-up:
When I was putting this together, it astounded me just how similar these teams were constructed. Both teams had perennial All-Star goalies in Matt Vinc for Buffalo, and Dillon Ward for Colorado. The defenses were bruising with Captain Steve Priolo leading by example for the Buffalo Bandits, and Robert Hope being the steady force behind the Colorado Mammoth defense.
Both teams have big bodies on defense that can move like cats. These players are ready to take away shooting and passing lanes, as well as pounce on loose balls for transition opportunities. The slight edge in transition I give to Colorado. The Mammoth have the league’s best transition player in Joey Cupido, who can electrify fans, and change momentum of the game with any one of his rushes.
The offenses for these two teams are fast, athletic, exciting, and rather creative. Josh Byrne, Chase Fraser, Dhane Smith, Chris Cloutier, Connor Fields, Tehoka Nanticoke, (and the list goes on) for the Bandits. While Colorado counters with Eli McLaughlin, Connor Robinson, Zed Williams, Chris Wardle, Dylan Kinnear, and hopefully a healthy Ryan Lee.
Even the faceoff battle will be a fairly even event with Tim Edwards battling Max Adler. Both men have been able to hold their own with the top faceoff men in the league all season, and the battle that will ensue between these two men will be epic.
My Take On The Series:
I can easily make arguments for both teams to be hoisting the cup, but would rather say the real winners will be the fans, the league, and lacrosse in general. With all games televised on ESPN and TSN, many new fans should be able to experience what a fantastic game the Creator’s game really is. This should lead to an influx of viewers, and supporters for years to come.
Good luck to both teams. Don’t be surprised if the NLL Championship is determined by an overtime goal in game three of the best of three series.
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Gary Groob has been involved with Lacrosse for the majority of his life, whether playing, coaching, or covering the sport for the media.
An avid fan, with a real drive about helping to “grow the game”, Gary became part of podcasts about the game 10 years ago. Through the podcasts, Mr. Groob had an opportunity to write about lacrosse, and the rest as they say, is history.
Through many miles (flying and driving) Gary has made inroads with the National Lacrosse League, Major Series Lacrosse League, the Ontario Lacrosse Association, as well as the Arena Lacrosse League, covering the leagues, their teams, and players, working for, and in concert with all of them.
In the year 2020, Mr. Groob was made the media person for the Arena Lacrosse League, voted onto the board of directors of the Brampton Excelsiors Lacrosse Club, as well as being made administrator of the Lacrosse page “Global Lacrosse” with a membership of 9000 members in over 90 Countries. Gary was also made an administrator of Lacrosse History Past Present and Future in 2022.
Mr. Groob co-hosts a weekly Lacrosse show on Spanglish Sports World, and ZingoTV channel 250, as well as writes a weekly lacrosse column for La Portada Canada News (both in print, and online).
Mr. Groob also hosts a Lacrosse talk show and podcast for The Edge of Philly Sports Network, seen live Sunday nights at 9pm (ET), and archived on the Edge of Philly YouTube page, as well as Spotify.
Mr. Groob’s other sports interests include Hockey, Football, Boxing, Wrestling, and Baseball, competing competitively in Boxing and Wrestling for many years.