The Buffalo Bandits faced the Colorado Mammoth at Ball Arena in Game 2 of the NLL Finals on Monday afternoon. The Bandits led the best-of-three series 1-0 after a thrilling 13-12 win two nights earlier in Buffalo. However, they would be without forward Josh Byrne for the second straight game. The defending champion Mammoth were in this same position last year, and once again they answered the bell. They outscored Buffalo 10-4 over the middle two quarters to win 16-10, tying the series at one game apiece. A decisive Game 3 for the NLL Cup takes place next Saturday night in Buffalo.
Lee’s hat trick gives Mammoth halftime lead
It took longer than normal, but the Bandits opened up the scoring with Ian MacKay (4:00) and Kyle Buchanan (1g, 2a; 7:54 power play) finding the back of the net for a 2-0 lead. Chris Wardle (10:43) responded for Colorado, but Dhane Smith (2g, 6a; 12:23 power play) restored the two-goal lead. However, Tim Edwards (12:33) scored off the ensuing faceoff for Colorado. Connor Robinson (3g, 2a; 13:35) then fired short side to beat Matt Vinc, making it 3-3 after one quarter.
Mammoth forward Ryan Lee (4g, 3a) took over in the second quarter. He went back-to back on a crease dive from his offhand side (1:24), then again from his dominant side (1:48) for a 5-3 lead. Smith’s second (5:29) cut the Buffalo deficit to one. But Lee would add his hat trick goal on a power play (6:34), then Robinson added another power play marker (9:37) to give Colorado a 7-4 lead. Chris Cloutier (1g, 4a; 11:43) and Zed Williams (2g, 4a; 14:14) traded goals, making it 8-5 Colorado at halftime.
Mammoth take advantage of Bandit penalty troubles
We’re normally used to seeing the Bandits come out blazing at the start of the second half, often going on a multi-goal run that puts the game out of reach. Eli McLaughlin (3g, 4a) put a stop to that, extending Colorado’s lead to four with a power play goal at 3:23. Tehoka Nanticoke (4g) scored a power play marker of his own 29 seconds later, but Lee’s fourth on a behind-the-back shot (4:48) and McLaughlin’s second (6:54) put the Mammoth up by five, 11-6. Nanticoke (8:36) scored his second to narrow the margin to four. However, Buffalo then tallied 10 minutes worth of penalties in the final five minutes of the third quarter. The second from Williams (9:01) and McLaughlin’s hat trick goal (13:36 power play) extended the Mammoth lead to 13-7 entering the final frame.
Tyson Gibson (1g, 1a; 1:33) scored Colorado’s fifth power play goal to push the Mammoth lead to 14-7. Nanticoke’s hat trick goal (2:40) and Chase Fraser’s mid-air bouncer (6:27) closed the gap to five, 14-9. That marked the first multi-goal run from the Bandits since opening the game with two goals. Robinson responded with his hat trick goal (10:29), but Nanticoke scored his fourth on a power play 17 seconds later to keep the margin at five. Tempers would continue to flare, with Buffalo amassing 16 penalty minutes in the last four minutes of the game. This included a 10-minute misconduct penalty on Dylan Robinson. Colorado closed the scoring with Dylan Kinnear (1g, 2a; 14:26) netting their sixth power play goal on a penalty shot following the multiple infractions on Buffalo as the game wound down.
Other Stats of Note
Power Play: BUF 4 for 4; COL 6 for 12
Faceoffs: BUF 21; COL 9
Steve Priolo (BUF): 12 Loose Balls (led all players)
Dillon Ward (COL): 38 saves
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“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 currently serves as Edge of Philly’s correspondent for both the Albany FireWolves and New York Riptide.