fbpx

Get gameday ready with NLLShop.com and NLLStore.ca Shop Now

×
WK
1
Fri, Dec 2
6:00 pm ET
Wings
Thunderbirds
Sat, Dec 3
5:00 pm ET
Warriors
Rock
Sat, Dec 3
7:30 pm ET
FireWolves
Bandits
Sat, Dec 3
7:30 pm ET
Seals
Riptide
Sat, Dec 3
8:00 pm ET
Knighthawks
Swarm
Sat, Dec 3
8:30 pm ET
Mammoth
Rush
WK
2
Fri, Dec 9
8:30 pm ET
Desert Dogs
Panther City
Fri, Dec 9
10:00 pm ET
Rush
Seals
Sat, Dec 10
7:00 pm ET
Rock
Knighthawks
Sat, Dec 10
9:30 pm ET
Warriors
Roughnecks
WK
3
Fri, Dec 16
10:00 pm ET
Roughnecks
Warriors
Fri, Dec 16
10:30 pm ET
Panther City
Desert Dogs
Sat, Dec 17
7:00 pm ET
Bandits
Rock
Sat, Dec 17
7:00 pm ET
Wings
Swarm
Sat, Dec 17
7:00 pm ET
Knighthawks
FireWolves
Sat, Dec 17
7:30 pm ET
Thunderbirds
Riptide
Sat, Dec 17
8:00 pm ET
Mammoth
Panther City
WK
5
Fri, Dec 30
7:30 pm ET
Thunderbirds
Bandits
Fri, Dec 30
9:00 pm ET
Seals
Roughnecks
Sat, Dec 31
9:00 pm ET
Panther City
Rush
WK
6
Fri, Jan 6
10:30 pm ET
Wings
Desert Dogs
Sat, Jan 7
7:00 pm ET
Bandits
Swarm
Sat, Jan 7
7:00 pm ET
Panther City
Knighthawks
Sat, Jan 7
7:00 pm ET
Thunderbirds
FireWolves
Sat, Jan 7
7:30 pm ET
Rock
Riptide
Sat, Jan 7
10:00 pm ET
Roughnecks
Mammoth
Sat, Jan 7
10:00 pm ET
Warriors
Seals
WK
7
Fri, Jan 13
6:30 pm ET
FireWolves
Thunderbirds
Fri, Jan 13
9:00 pm ET
Rush
Mammoth
Sat, Jan 14
7:00 pm ET
Thunderbirds
Rock
Sat, Jan 14
7:00 pm ET
Panther City
Wings
Sat, Jan 14
7:30 pm ET
Swarm
Bandits
Sat, Jan 14
9:00 pm ET
Seals
Roughnecks
Sat, Jan 14
10:00 pm ET
Desert Dogs
Warriors
Sun, Jan 15
3:00 pm ET
Knighthawks
Riptide
WK
8
Fri, Jan 20
7:30 pm ET
Bandits
Knighthawks
Fri, Jan 20
10:30 pm ET
Warriors
Desert Dogs
Sat, Jan 21
7:00 pm ET
Rock
Wings
Sat, Jan 21
7:00 pm ET
Riptide
FireWolves
WK
9
Fri, Jan 27
6:00 pm ET
Knighthawks
Thunderbirds
Fri, Jan 27
7:00 pm ET
Bandits
Wings
Sat, Jan 28
7:30 pm ET
Bandits
Riptide
Sat, Jan 28
8:30 pm ET
Desert Dogs
Rush
Sat, Jan 28
9:00 pm ET
Rock
Roughnecks
Sat, Jan 28
9:00 pm ET
Seals
Mammoth
Sat, Jan 28
10:00 pm ET
Panther City
Warriors
WK
10
Fri, Feb 3
9:00 pm ET
Swarm
Mammoth
Sat, Feb 4
6:00 pm ET
Roughnecks
Thunderbirds
Sat, Feb 4
7:00 pm ET
Riptide
Rock
Sat, Feb 4
7:00 pm ET
FireWolves
Wings
Sat, Feb 4
7:30 pm ET
Knighthawks
Bandits
Sat, Feb 4
10:00 pm ET
Panther City
Seals
Sat, Feb 4
10:00 pm ET
Rush
Warriors
Sat, Feb 4
10:30 pm ET
Mammoth
Desert Dogs
WK
11
Fri, Feb 10
7:30 pm ET
Rock
Swarm
Fri, Feb 10
9:00 pm ET
Rush
Roughnecks
Sat, Feb 11
7:00 pm ET
Thunderbirds
Knighthawks
Sat, Feb 11
7:30 pm ET
FireWolves
Riptide
Sat, Feb 11
8:00 pm ET
Warriors
Panther City
Sat, Feb 11
9:00 pm ET
Mammoth
Roughnecks
WK
12
Fri, Feb 17
10:00 pm ET
Rush
Seals
Fri, Feb 17
10:00 pm ET
Roughnecks
Warriors
Sat, Feb 18
7:00 pm ET
Swarm
Rock
Sat, Feb 18
7:00 pm ET
Desert Dogs
FireWolves
Sat, Feb 18
7:30 pm ET
Wings
Bandits
Sat, Feb 18
8:00 pm ET
Mammoth
Panther City
Sun, Feb 19
1:00 pm ET
Riptide
Thunderbirds
WK
13
Fri, Feb 24
9:00 pm ET
Panther City
Mammoth
Fri, Feb 24
10:30 pm ET
Roughnecks
Desert Dogs
Sat, Feb 25
7:00 pm ET
FireWolves
Swarm
Sat, Feb 25
7:00 pm ET
Riptide
Knighthawks
Sat, Feb 25
8:00 pm ET
Warriors
Rush
WK
14
Fri, Mar 3
6:30 pm ET
Bandits
Thunderbirds
Sat, Mar 4
11:30 am ET
Riptide
Wings
Sat, Mar 4
4:00 pm ET
Desert Dogs
Seals
Sat, Mar 4
7:00 pm ET
Knighthawks
Rock
Sat, Mar 4
7:00 pm ET
Swarm
FireWolves
Sat, Mar 4
8:00 pm ET
Rush
Panther City
Mon, Mar 6
7:00 pm ET
Rock
Wings
WK
15
Fri, Mar 10
7:30 pm ET
Thunderbirds
Bandits
Fri, Mar 10
9:00 pm ET
Roughnecks
Mammoth
Sat, Mar 11
7:00 pm ET
FireWolves
Rock
Sat, Mar 11
7:30 pm ET
Wings
Riptide
Sat, Mar 11
8:30 pm ET
Seals
Rush
Sat, Mar 11
10:30 pm ET
Warriors
Desert Dogs
Sun, Mar 12
4:00 pm ET
Knighthawks
Swarm
WK
16
Fri, Mar 17
9:00 pm ET
Rush
Roughnecks
Fri, Mar 17
10:00 pm ET
Seals
Warriors
Sat, Mar 18
11:00 am ET
Swarm
Wings
Sat, Mar 18
6:00 pm ET
Rock
Thunderbirds
Sat, Mar 18
7:30 pm ET
Mammoth
Bandits
Sat, Mar 18
7:30 pm ET
FireWolves
Riptide
Sat, Mar 18
8:00 pm ET
Desert Dogs
Panther City
Sun, Mar 19
3:00 pm ET
Wings
Knighthawks
WK
17
Fri, Mar 24
8:30 pm ET
Seals
Panther City
Sat, Mar 25
7:00 pm ET
Thunderbirds
Wings
Sat, Mar 25
7:00 pm ET
Rock
FireWolves
Sat, Mar 25
7:30 pm ET
Swarm
Riptide
Sat, Mar 25
9:30 pm ET
Roughnecks
Rush
Sat, Mar 25
10:00 pm ET
Bandits
Seals
Sat, Mar 25
10:00 pm ET
Mammoth
Warriors
Sat, Mar 25
10:30 pm ET
Knighthawks
Desert Dogs
WK
18
Fri, Mar 31
7:00 pm ET
Riptide
Swarm
Fri, Mar 31
9:00 pm ET
Desert Dogs
Mammoth
Fri, Mar 31
10:00 pm ET
Roughnecks
Seals
Sat, Apr 1
7:00 pm ET
Bandits
Rock
Sat, Apr 1
8:00 pm ET
FireWolves
Panther City
Sat, Apr 1
9:30 pm ET
Warriors
Rush
Sun, Apr 2
1:00 pm ET
Swarm
Thunderbirds
Sun, Apr 2
6:00 pm ET
Knighthawks
Wings
WK
19
Sat, Apr 8
7:00 pm ET
Rush
Swarm
Sat, Apr 8
7:00 pm ET
FireWolves
Knighthawks
Sat, Apr 8
9:00 pm ET
Panther City
Roughnecks
Sat, Apr 8
9:00 pm ET
Warriors
Mammoth
Sat, Apr 8
10:30 pm ET
Seals
Desert Dogs
WK
20
Fri, Apr 14
9:00 pm ET
Desert Dogs
Roughnecks
Fri, Apr 14
9:00 pm ET
Seals
Mammoth
Sat, Apr 15
7:00 pm ET
Wings
Rock
Sat, Apr 15
7:00 pm ET
Swarm
FireWolves
Sat, Apr 15
7:30 pm ET
Riptide
Bandits
Sat, Apr 15
9:30 pm ET
Thunderbirds
Rush
Sat, Apr 15
10:00 pm ET
Panther City
Warriors
WK
21
Fri, Apr 21
8:30 pm ET
Roughnecks
Panther City
Sat, Apr 22
6:00 pm ET
Riptide
Thunderbirds
Sat, Apr 22
7:00 pm ET
Swarm
Knighthawks
Sat, Apr 22
8:00 pm ET
Rock
Bandits
Sat, Apr 22
9:30 pm ET
Mammoth
Rush
Sat, Apr 22
10:00 pm ET
Desert Dogs
Seals
Sun, Apr 23
3:00 pm ET
Wings
FireWolves
WK
22
Sat, Apr 29
7:00 pm ET
Thunderbirds
Swarm
Sat, Apr 29
7:00 pm ET
Wings
Knighthawks
Sat, Apr 29
7:00 pm ET
Bandits
FireWolves
Sat, Apr 29
10:00 pm ET
Mammoth
Seals
Sat, Apr 29
10:00 pm ET
Riptide
Warriors
Sat, Apr 29
10:30 pm ET
Rush
Desert Dogs
Powered By
MGM Logo
Scores / Schedule
Game PreviewsNewsPlayoffsStories/Op-Ed

History Lessons Could Be Key to Game 1 of the NLL Finals

Buffalo Bandits coach John Tavares has either been through it or seen it during his legendary lacrosse career, first as a player and the NLL’s all-time leading scorer, and now as a bench boss.

Tavares recorded 1,949 points in 344 career regular-season and playoff games, all with the Bandits, but more importantly won four NLL championships during his 24-year career on the floor from 1992 to 2015.

Now, in his second season as Buffalo’s sole head coach, Tavares is using lessons from the past to prepare the top-seeded Bandits and propel them into Game 1 of the best-of-three NLL Finals against the underdog Colorado Mammoth at KeyBank Center on Saturday (7:30pm ET/ESPN+ and TSN4).

“Does history teach you anything?” asks Tavares, who won championships as a player in 1992, 1993, 1996 and 2008 but lost in his first as a head coach in 2019, the last time the NLL Cup was presented.

It’s perhaps the losses more than the wins that Tavares sees as instructional, including the 2006 championship against the Mammoth.

“I remember losing at home,” Tavares says. “I do think that team took Colorado very lightly, we thought we had to just show up and win.”

The visiting Mammoth surprised favored Buffalo, racing out to an early lead and cruising to a 16-9 victory in the one-game, winner-take-all final in front of 16,104 rabid Banditland fans. It’s Colorado’s lone title since relocating to Denver in 2002, and on that team was current Mammoth head coach Pat Coyle.

“Well I think the lesson for this year is literally the same as it was in 2019,” says Tavares. “We got to the championship as the favored team, same as in 2006, and thinking we got through the East, this is ours. But then we lost two straight games to Calgary. The lesson learned there is don’t treat anybody lightly.”

Against Colorado, the Bandits will have to contend with a potent Mammoth offense averaging 13.75 goals-for per game in the playoffs led by Eli McLaughlin, Connor Robinson and Zed Williams, a lightning-quick transition game featuring Joey Cupido, and standout goaltending from Dillon Ward.

McLaughlin is the postseason scoring leader with 17 goals and 33 points in four games, and Williams has two game-winning goals. Tim Edwards is tops in faceoff wins at 62.3 percent, while defenceman Robert Hope has hoovered a playoff-best 38 loose balls. Cupido has four goals, and Ward has an 11.88 goals-against average and .762 save percentage.

“Colorado is a very good team,” Tavares says. “We’ll try to slow them down on offense and in transition. They beat us in the one game we had this year, and during the regular season they had comebacks many times. In the West finals [against San Diego], they won two road games to win the series.”

“We have to be the better team. All week we’ve been watching video to prepare for every situation. We have to be prepared, then show up and work hard. It will be a dogfight for both teams. A tough, tough series.”

Buffalo will counter with its own high-powered offense, the dynamic duo of Dhane Smith and Josh Byrne, a stellar supporting cast including Chris Cloutier, Connor Fields, Chase Fraser, Kyle Buchanan and rookie Tehoka Nanticoke, and top netminder Matt Vinc.

“Guys this year are close-knit, the core of the group has been around for a while and are hungry to win,” says Tavares.

Byrne leads the Bandits in playoff scoring with eight goals and 23 points in three games, while Smith is right behind with seven goals and 22 points. Vinc and Buffalo have been perfect in the postseason so far at 3-0, Vinc with a 10.33 goals-against average and .805 save percentage.

Both Vinc and Smith are on the cusp of playoff milestones. Vinc needs 15 minutes to become the first goaltender in NLL history to play 2,000 career postseason minutes, while Smith needs eight points to become the 12th player in league history to reach 100.

During their one and only regular-season meeting this year on April 2 in Denver, the Mammoth outlasted the Bandits in a back-and-forth affair with Robinson scoring the game-winner late in the fourth quarter for a tight 15-14 win. Smith had 12 points for Buffalo, and recorded a league-best 135 points in 18 regular-season games.

“Obviously Buffalo is in the NLL Finals for a reason,” says Robinson, who has netted 12 playoff goals after sniping a team-high 42 for Colorado during the regular season.

The Bandits were the NLL’s best team this season with a 14-4 record. The Mammoth finished 10-8, third in the West.

“They are a very good team all around, from their offense to Vinc in-between the pipes,” Robinson says. “We have to be ready on both sides of the floor. Being aware of Buffalo’s personnel is important but we’re focusing on us and what’s got us this far, by sticking together and playing Mammoth lacrosse.”

NLL