The Buffalo Bandits and Saskatchewan Rush raced out to 1-0 series leads in the 2016 NLL Division Finals with convincing 15-10 and 16-10 wins against the New England Black Wolves and Calgary Roughnecks respectively. Two teams will be advancing to the Champion’s Cup Finals with Game 2’s set for Saturday night, first in Buffalo at 7:30 p.m. ET before the action heads out west to Saskatoon at 9:30 p.m. ET, both live on NLLTV.com.
“National Lacrosse League teams aren’t always successful coming off a bye week, even if they were the top seed in the division and had a week of rest because they had the best record,” Stamp writes. “Both Saskatchewan and Buffalo may have been just a tough rusty coming out of the gate in Week 1 of the Division finals, but both had plenty of get up and go to pull out wins and put themselves one victory away from a trip to the Champions Cup finals. It’s no surprise that this week’s NLL 3 Stars on IL Indoor come from the teams that finished 13-5 in the regular season and followed that up with wins in their first playoff games of the year.”
Dhane Smith, Buffalo Bandits
5 goals, 2 assists
Smith continues to bury his chances when he gets them, connecting on better than a quarter of the shots he took in Buffalo’s Game 1 win over New England. And when you pay too much attention to Smith, someone else like Kedoh Hill steps in and scores four times. The Bandits truly are a puzzle to try to defend these days.
Ryan Benesch, Buffalo Bandits
3 goals, 6 assists
Benesch had about as quiet a 9-point night as you’ll see in a playoff game. With so much attention focused on Smith and with Hill shining as well, Benesch just went about his business and kept the Bandits’ O humming along nicely.
Curtis Dickson (Calgary): 3g, 2a. Just missed on a handful of shots that could have made it a huge night for him and given the Roughnecks an excellent chance to win…Sheldon Burns (New England): 1g, 9LB, 3CTO. Brought plenty of energy and was, as usual, dynamic all over the floor…Alex Kedoh Hill (Buffalo): 4g. Scored his 4 goals on just 8 shots…Ben McIntosh (Saskatchewan): 4g. May have taken over Aaron Wilson’s mantle as the most dangerous finisher on the crease…Anthony Cosmo (Buffalo): 45/55, .818 save percentage. Made a handful of key saves at critical times and was steady throughout…Ryan Dilks (Saskatchewan): 1a, 6LB, 3CTO. Tenacious pressure and a brilliant stick check chasing down Dickson from behind…Mike Carnegie (Calgary): 4LB, 3CTO. Solid in the set defence and set a physical tone…Brett Manney (New England): 1a, 3LB, 1CTO. Two impeccable screens on two-on-one breaks with another righty led directly to a pair of goals…Mark Matthews (Saskatchewan): 2g, 3a. Just because he’s expected to be good every night doesn’t mean he shouldn’t get credit when he is; it’s easy to forget that when you’re honouring good performances… Kyle Buchanan (New England): 3g, 2a, 10LB, 2CTO. Was the Black Wolves’ most…
Click here for the Third Star and full list of Honorable Mentions from Stephen Stamp’s Three Stars of the Division Finals Game 1 on IL Indoor.