Bandits extend dominance over rival Rock in NLL semifinal series opener

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Bandits opened the National Lacrosse League semifinal series the same way they closed it out a year ago, with a dominant rivalry win on the road.

The reigning NLL Cup champions can secure a return trip to the finals with a victory Sunday in Banditland after beating the Toronto Rock 12-4 in Game 1 of the best-of-three semifinal Friday night in Hamilton, Ontario.

Bandits title defense fortified by midseason moves

Bandits goaltender Matt Vinc made 53 saves in Buffalo’s best defensive performance of the season Friday night, shutting out the Rock for the first 39 minutes, and matching the franchise record for goals allowed in a playoff game. Vinc’s .930 save percentage set a Bandits postseason record.

NLL record for fewest goals allowed in a game is 2.
Buffalo Bandits lead 8-1 vs. top-seeded rival Toronto Rock entering 4Q of semifinal series opener.
WNY’ers can watch the finish on CW23.

— Jonah Bronstein (@lebronstein) May 4, 2024

On the other end of the floor, Kyle Buchanan had three goals and an assist, Brandon Robinson, Chase Fraser, Chris Cloutier each scored twice, league scoring leader Josh Byrne added a goal and four assists, and Dhane Smith tallied a goal and three assists.

Facing Toronto in the semifinals for the third year in a row, Buffalo won its seventh straight postseason matchup between the two clubs since 2014. The Bandits clinched the series last year with a 17-8 win in Hamilton, after opening the series with a 14-5 triumph in Buffalo. The Bandits also swept the regular season series with the Rock, who finished with the best record in the NLL, losing just one against another team besides Buffalo.

Game 2 of the semifinals starts at 5:30 p.m. Sunday at KeyBank Center.


Jonah Bronstein joined the WIVB squad in 2022 as a digital sports reporter. The Buffalonian has covered the Bills, Sabres, Bandits, Bisons, colleges, high schools and other notable sporting events in Western New York since 2005, for publications including The Associated Press, The Buffalo News, and Niagara Gazette. Read more of his work here.

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