Saturday night in ‘Banditland’ will surely have a playoff atmosphere, at least for one team that will be playing at the KeyBank Center in downtown Buffalo. The Toronto Rock (7-9) can be eliminated from postseason contention if they fall at the hands of the Buffalo Bandits (8-8) on Saturday night. Faceoff is set for 7:30P.M. EST.
The Bandits can’t be knocked out of the playoff race with a loss, but a win would make their path to the Champions Cup playoffs easier. A win by Buffalo and a win by the Rochester Knighthawks would clinch a spot for the Bandits. If not, Buffalo will have to beat the Knighthawks next week to guarantee their postseason berth.
Bandits head coach Troy Cordingley knows that the Rock will be hungry coming into Buffalo on Saturday night.
“For the last four or five weeks we’ve been in a playoff spot. We’ve had some really good games and some bad ones. We’ve got to be more consistent. We’ve been focused this week and we’re preparing. We know they’re battling for their lives,” said Cordingley. “Every time we play Toronto it’s a huge rivalry. They’re really good defensively and make you earn your goals. Offensively they’ve got weapons that can shoot from the outside and score inside. They may have the best player in the league in Tom Schreiber, and with him back, he makes everyone around him better.”
Buffalo is coming off disappointing 16-9 loss in Calgary last week against the Roughnecks. After playing to a 7-7 tie at the half, the Bandits didn’t score again until the 8:13 mark of the fourth quarter. In a week where the New England Black Wolves and the Georgia Swarm each got wins over their West Division opponents, Buffalo lost an opportunity to keep pace with the pack in the East. That being said, they still hold tiebreakers in virtually every East Division scenario.
“We still control our own destiny. We just have to make sure that we play for 60 minutes the way we’re capable of playing. We’re not looking at any other team. We’re focused on Toronto and worrying about our job,” Cordingley said of the final two weeks. The Bandits also have a lot of young players and rookies on the roster who have taken advantage of their chances to make an impression on the NLL. “Some of our players have grown substantially and gotten used to the systems that we’re running. Our biggest battle continues to be with beating ourselves. We need to learn and figure things out so we’re not hurting ourselves. We’re a young team and we’ll be very competitive Saturday night and going forward.”
Bandits forward Josh Byrne is leading the NLL rookies in scoring with 58 points. He’ll look to keep his stellar campaign going. Dhane Smith finds himself third in the league in scoring with 95 points. He’ll hope to catch Robert Church and Mark Matthews having a game in hand on both of them.
The game will be streaming on NLLTV.com and it’s affiliates, plus will be featured as the Twitter Game of the Week.