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A Blowout in Banditland Moves Buffalo to East Conference Finals

Banditland was rocking on Saturday night.

2022 MVP Dhane Smith led the way with a 10-point night as the Buffalo Bandits routed the Rochester Knighthawks 20-8 in a National Lacrosse League Quarterfinal game in front of 14,794 fans at KeyBank Center in Buffalo. With the win, the Bandits advance to meet the Toronto Rock in the best-of-three East Conference Finals with game one set for Friday night in Buffalo at 7:30pm ET.

“Thank you Banditland,” said Smith in a Bandits social media video posted after the game. “You guys showed up tonight. I can’t wait for the game on Friday. We need you guys there more than ever. We know you’ll be there.  Go Bandits! Let’s go!”

Smith had three goals and seven assists on the night while Josh Byrne joined the Bandits’ offensive explosion with four goals and five assists for nine points. Chris Cloutier and Kyle Buchanan also tallied hat tricks for the Bandits who recorded the largest postseason victory in franchise history.  They set a season-high in goals and they scored 20 goals in a playoff game for the third time in franchise history.

The Bandits gave goalie Matt Vinc great offensive support but he also did his job making 44 saves between the pipes in his NLL record 40th playoff game. Ian Mackay picked up 11 loose balls and caused a pair of turnovers while also chipping in offensively with two goals and three assists for five points.

Buffalo led 8-4 at halftime before the Knighthawks opened the third quarter with a pair of goals to pull to withing 8-6. But then the Bandits took over in a big way. They would score three goals in 56 seconds and would outscore Rochester 12-2 the rest of the way to set up a rematch of last year’s East Conference Finals with their neighbors north of the border. Toronto punched their ticket to the NLL’s final four with a 15-11 win over Halifax on Friday night in Hamilton.

The Knighthawks, in the playoffs for the first time in franchise history since in 2019-20, were led by Holden Cattoni who had four goals and two assists for six points. Connor Fields recorded a five-point night with a goal and four assists. Ryan Smith had a goal and three assists for four points. Goalie Ryan Hartley allowed 15 goals and made 32 saves while Riley Hutchcraft gave up five goals and made six stops.

Here is the complete East Conference Finals schedule…

  • Game 1: Friday May 12th Toronto at Buffalo 7:30pm ET
    • For tickets for Game 1, click here
  • Game 2: Saturday May 13th Buffalo at Toronto 7pm ET
    • For tickets for Game 2, click here
  • Game 3*: Saturday May 20th Toronto at Buffalo 7: 30pm ET (if necessary)