Bandits on brink of another championship

Photo by Allison Staebell for WIVB/WNLO-TV.

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The stage is set for a dynastic Saturday night in Banditland.

Buffalo can claim back-to-back National Lacrosse League championships and the sixth professional indoor lacrosse title in franchise history with another victory on its home floor at KeyBank Center after winning 12-8 Game 1 of the best-of-three NLL Finals on Friday night in Albany.

How to watch Buffalo Bandits in NLL Finals

Playing in the championship series for the fourth consecutive NLL postseason, the Bandits took control in the second half of what was a tight matchup early with an Albany team making its first finals appearance.

Bandits star Dhane Smith set a postseason career-high with 11 points (two goals, nine assists) and surpassed his coach John Tavares for most playoff assists in NLL history (120). League MVP Josh Byrne added three goals and four assists, while Chris Cloutier scored twice and tallied four assists.

Bandits star Dhane Smith chasing coach John Tavares’ championships more than records

After five lead changes in the first half, Chase Fraser put the Bandits ahead at 3:03 into the third quarter on a goal that was initially waived off before Tavares successfully challenged that Fraser’s foot did not fall in the crease before the ball crossed the goal line.

Matt Vinc made 23 of his 37 saves in the second half as the Bandits outscored the FireWolves 7-2 after halftime.

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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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