7:05 p.m. -- Good evening from tonight's "other game" in Buffalo. I know, the Sabres are attracting most of the attention this evening. But we've got a pretty good lacrosse game in store.
If you missed it, Colorado beat Calgary last night, so the Bandits have a chance for the best record in the league. They need to win their last two games. A win tonight (or next week if necessary) gives them the East title. Calgary has the tiebreaker over Buffalo, so the Roughnecks have the edge if the two teams finish with the same record. So the Bandits have a good reason to play hard down the stretch, no matter what.
It's already been an interesting warm-up session. Brett Queener fell to the ground for the Blazers. He had to be helped off the carpet by a trainer. It looked like an ankle injury. Since he was already in the lineup, it will be interesting to know if he can be replaced if he can't go. Meanwhile, both Casey and Ryan Powell are scratched from the Boston lineup. There is no word on injuries for the Powell brothers. It's at least possible they are getting a little rest now that Boston has the fourth playoff spot and could go no higher in the standings.
Buffalo will scratch Ben McCullough, Kyle Clancy and Travis Irving. (By the way, Irving talks about his first year in the league in tomorrow's Bandits' Notebook. Nice guy.) Roger Vyse is back after missing a few games with an injury.
Looks like we'll have about 16,000 or so in the building, although some may be hanging out in front of the television monitors to watch the hockey game. The huge "Stanley Cup Playoffs" banners are hanging above the scoreboard.
Oh, gotta mention one other thing. Someone told me that one of the Bandits' championship banners had the wrong year on it. I looked from the back side when coming in tonight. Sure enough, one side of a banner that most people see reads 1992 for a championship. But the other side reads 1993.
7:37 p.m. -- One banner is about to go up with the right number on it - 16. Rich Kilgour is having his number retired on it.
7:43 p.m. -- Assistant GM Derek Graham was asked about the number retirement the other day. He said usually, it seems, the team that gets honored goes on to lose the game. We'll see how he does on that thought.
7:51 p.m. -- Looks like Boston has shown up. The Blazers have taken a 2-1 lead in the first four minutes.
7:53 p.m. -- The Flyers have evened the series with a 5-4 win over the Sabres. If you'll excuse a hockey stat on a lacrosse blog, history (since 2004) says the higher seed wins 50 percent of the time when splitting the first two games. So that series is now a coin flip.
8:02 p.m. -- Back to lacrosse. The Blazers have a 3-2 lead with 3:18 left in the first quarter. Brandon Francis has his first goal of the season for Buffalo. Think he'll start demanding more playing time. Brenden Thenhaus had the other score. Not much to choose between the two teams so far.
8:04 p.m. -- By the way, I heard today that if the Bandits give up a total of 14 goals in their final two games, they'll tie the league record for fewest goals allowed in a 16-game season. OK, it's down to 11 more now. I'll have to check that for next week.
8:08 p.m. -- The score stayed at 3-2, Boston, after a period of play. Mike Thompson has played well in goal for Buffalo, and his friendly goalposts have helped him out a couple of times as well.
8:19 p.m. -- John Tavares just tied the score, 4-4, with a nice goal. The pass from Tom Montour wasn't perfect, but Tavares adjusted on the run and caught it anyway. He came in alone on the right side and beat goalie Anthony Cosmo from close range.
8:29 p.m. -- Just did some checking while waiting for a goal to be reviewed -- the Bandits are 22 goals away from tying the record for goals allowed in a season (132 vs. 154). They have a real shot at that, of course. Funny how the Eastern teams give up fewer goals than the ones out West. Different style, perhaps? Still 4-4 with 4:32 in the half.
8:42 p.m. -- We had something of an offensive explosion in the final minutes of the half. Boston had the better of play, and took a 7-5 play. Tracey Kelusky had a great goal, taking a blind, backhanded shot from the shot. But Boston turned it up a bit. By the way, there were no penalties called in the half. That's the first time that has happened this year. Wonder if it has ever happened in a Bandits' game?
9:00 p.m. -- It's nine o'clock on a Saturday, and the regular crowd shuffles, um, back in. Still not much life from the Bandits on the offensive end tonight. But there's plenty of time for a spurt as the second half opens.
9:04 p.m. -- The referees do have whistles. We have had a couple of penalties called in the early going. The Bandits still trail, 7-6.
9:09 p.m. -- Kevin Buchanan scored a power-play goal, and Dan Dawson fought off a couple of Bandits to add an impressive even-strength goal. Boston has a 9-6 lead with 8:16 to go in the third quarter.
9:16 p.m. -- The Bandits have allowed three straight goals to fall behind, 10-6. Mike Thompson is out, Angus Goodleaf is in. It's probably a team shake-up move more than anything, but Buffalo has turned flat lately.
9:18 p.m. -- Kevin Buchanan -- four goals, four assists. Dan Dawson -- two goals, six assists. It's fair to call them difference-makers so far.
9:28 p.m. -- The Bandits showed a little life in the final minutes of the third quarter, but they are still down, 10-7.
9:34 p.m. -- Whoops. The Blazers have come out flying in the fourth quarter, scoring three straight goals to go up, 13-7. Goodleaf isn't getting much help.
9:51 p.m. -- Boston has a 14-9 lead with 4:35 to go. It would take something close for a miracle to turn this one around. First place overall is going .... going ....
10:00 p.m. -- Delaying the "gone" part, Brandon Francis just started slugging with the Boston bench. Wondered if frustration would bubble over.
10:09 p.m. -- Bandits lose, 16-9. First place overall is gone.
11:46 p.m. -- But first place in the East is the Bandits'. Toronto somehow lost in Edmonton, 18-14, so Buffalo has clinched the division title. The Bandits will play Boston again in two weeks, depending on when the Sabres play, and if they win they would stay at home for round two. Any championship game involving Buffalo but not Calgary would be here.
However, another night like this one and the Bandits won't get out of the first round. Their most one-sided loss of the season wasn't pretty. They'll get to tune up next week against Rochester.
--- Budd Bailey