NLL enters playoffs for Champions Cup

ROCHESTER – While the Rochester Knighthawks earned a buy in the first round of the NLL playoffs, the 9-9 Buffalo Bandits will be duking it out against the 8-10 Toronto Rock, Saturday May 3rd, at the Air Canada Centre in TO.

In the west, the Colorado Mammoth go up against the Calgary Roughnecks the same night with the Edmonton Rush sitting it out.

New to the postseason format, the Division Finals and Champion’s Cup Finals both expand to a two-game series from the previous single-game elimination setup. Rochester and Edmonton will play the winners of the Division Semifinal games in the East and West Divisions respectively.

The two Division Semifinal winners will host Game One of the Division Finals during the weekend of May 9-11. Edmonton hosts Game Two of the West Division Finals on Friday, May 16 at 10 p.m. ET while Rochester hosts Game Two of the East Division Finals on Saturday, May 17 at 7:30 p.m. ET.

According to NLL annalist Brian Shannahan – a former Six Nations Major Series Chief, “The Rochester Knighthawks entered the fourth quarter of their game against the Buffalo Bandits with a 12-11 lead. On the next Buffalo power play the Knighthawks scored two shorthanded goals and in typical Rochester fashion the Knighthawks went on a run to build a 16-11 lead and apparently put the game out of reach. In a typical Rochester fashion the Knighthawks allowed Buffalo to score the last three goals of the game within the last 5 minutes. Despite the close finish Rochester looks poised to go to the NLL championship for the third year in a row.

His take on Toronto’s hopes is, “Brandon Miller was sharp as he backstopped the Toronto Rock to an 8-6 win over Minnesota to win their fourth a row and what seemed impossible a month ago has happened as the Rock has leapfrogged the struggling Buffalo Bandits to take second place in the East division. The Rock will host the Bandits next Saturday at the ACC in the East division semi-final and the Rock will know that Buffalo’s horrendous losing streak means absolutely nothing in a 1 game knockout playoff.”

And for the Bandits’ he says, “After seven straight losses I think it would have been a bigger surprise to most of us if the Buffalo Bandits had finished the season with a win on Saturday against the Rochester Knighthawks. Buffalo played a pretty good game in front of 19, 000 fans but a couple of brain cramps led to an empty net goal for a Rochester (and Sid Smith’s first NLL goal) at the end of the half and a couple of shorthanded goals at a critical point in the game. The only good news for the Bandits is that the regular season is over and the losing streak will quickly be forgotten if they can win their playoff game in Toronto.”

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