It all comes down to the final week in the East Division. Nothing is settled in the playoff picture and it may not be until the final game of the NLL’s regular season.
For the Buffalo Bandits (8-9), they are in a must win scenario on Saturday night when they host the Rochester Knighthawks (9-8) to have any chance to keep their playoff hopes alive. Faceoff is set for 7:30P.M. EST at KeyBank Center.
In order to make the playoffs, in addition to winning, Buffalo will need either the Toronto Rock or the New England Black Wolves to lose their final game. If Buffalo wins and both Toronto and New England lose, Buffalo will finish in second in the East and host a playoff game. If Buffalo loses, or wins with Toronto and New England both winning, they’re eliminated from the postseason.
The Knighthawks currently lead the season series 2-1, splitting the two games at Blue Cross Arena and winning in their previous visit to ‘Banditland.’
For Buffalo, it’s a situation where the playoffs have come a week early in the sense that a loss would end their season. But they’ve felt the pressure for the weeks leading up to this point.
”We’re going to be correcting things that we need to correct and getting on the same page. We still have a chance here,” said Bandits head coach Troy Cordingley. “The playoffs have been here for us for six or seven weeks, but we need to put together a solid 60 minutes of lacrosse.”
Buffalo comes off a tough home loss to Toronto last week where they saw an early 2-0 lead evaporate into a 16-11 loss. The loss also prevented the Rock from being removed from the playoff picture and kept the picture in the East a five horse race.
“We have to go back to the drawing board. We have to keep going, we have one more chance,” said Bandits forward Mitch Jones. “We’re not sure how the East is going to shake out, but we have one more chance to give ourselves the best opportunity [to make the playoffs.”
Rochester comes to town recovering from an 11-6 loss to New England. They realize that if they win, they’re locked into the playoffs.
”I’m pretty pumped that it’s coming down to us and Buffalo, it’s a big rivalry,” said Austin Shanks to Knighthawks.com. “If we win, we’re in. There’s not much more to say. We just need to keep doing our thing and we’ll win this game.”
Saturday night will be Fan Appreciation Night in Buffalo. The Bandits will have giveaways, prizes and honor the 2017-2018 Fan of the Year. The game will be available on NLLTV and its affiliates.