7:01 p.m. -- It's time for Thursday Night Lights in Toronto.
I'm not sure when the Bandits' last Thursday night game was, but they've got one tonight. They play the Rock here in Toronto. It's the start of a big week for Buffalo, as the Bandits will host the Philadelphia Wings tomorrow. So it's two games in two nights against the team's top rivals in the East Division race at the moment.
The most interesting aspect of the game as we head for the start is the Bandits' lineup. There have been a few changes.
Tracey Kelusky is said to be on the injured reserve list with a rib injury. He is said to have hurt it in the Bandits' last game, at Rochester.
John Tavares is in the lineup. He has missed the last month with a calf injury. Darris Kilgour, the coach of the team, said that he might rest Tavares tomorrow.
Here's another surprise - Mat Giles has been activated and is in the lineup. And Mike McNamara is back on defense. McNamara will be wearing #77 instead of #14; the usual number supposedly got lost. Hayden Smith and Brownell have been released, at least on paper. This is one crowded roster.
The scratches tonight - Jon Harasym, Mike Hominuck and Carter Bender. Kurtis Wagar is back to serve as the second-stringer behind Anthony Cosmo. Wonder if Wagar will get a start tomorrow?
7:31 p.m. - The game is on youtube.com through the Lacrosse Network. Go to nll.com for a link if that's easier.
This is not the place to be with a slight headache, the volume on the public address system is always pretty high. There aren't too many people in the building. It's hard to guess a number, but it won't be much of a home-court advantage.
NLL Commissioner George Daniel is in the house tonight. What's more, he was at the Bandits' game in Rochester two weeks ago, and he'll be in Buffalo tomorrow. I'm starting to think he's a secret Bandits fan.
7:46 p.m. - It's been a rather wide-open start to play. Aaron Wilson and Shawn Williams have the Buffalo goals.
7:55 p.m. - John Tavares looked fine when he scored a moment ago. He got a step on a defender, drove to the net, dove across the crease and stuffed it home. So welcome back, number 11. 3-2 Buffalo with 4:44 to go in the first.
8:02 p.m. - Bandits exit the first quarter with a 4-2 lead. Tavares made the proverbial sweet pass to Aaron Wilson for the fourth goal.
8:13 P.M. - Hard to keep the Rock quiet for long. Kasey Beirnes and Garrett Billings have made it a 4-4 game with 8:12 to go in the period.
8:21 p.m. - Wow. Shawn Williams just went behind-the-neck to score a go-ahead goal. Very nice. It's 6-5, Buffalo, with 3:57 left.
8:30 p.m. - Halftime, and the score is still 6-5. Bandits probably had a slight edge in play, but nothing decisive.
8:55 p.m. - The Rock scored two goals in less than a minute. That ties the score at 7-7 with 8:18 to go in the third quarter. Jay Thorimburt had an unassisted goal for the Bandits to start the quarter. He's having a fine, quiet year. If there were an award for unsung hero of the first half, which there isn't, Jay would get my vote.
9:02 p.m. - Toronto up, 8-7, and on the power play. ... And Colin Doyle dribbles one home for the biggest lead of the night.
9:13 p.m. - The third quarter wasn't all Rock, but it was close. Toronto has an 11-8 lead. The Rock can throw its five top scorers out shift after shift, and after a while they will get some goals.
9:18 p.m. - Two quick goals by the Bandits (Thorimburt and Shawn Williams) have cut the lead to one at 11-10. Oops. Buffalo strikes as I type this (Billy Dee Smith).
9:22 p.m. - Ten minutes to go, and the Bandits and Rock are tied 11-11.
9:29 p.m. - Who saw this coming? Bandits are up 13-11 with 6:32 to play.
9:35 p.m. - Bandits up 14-13 with two minutes left. OK, now make it 48 seconds left, and the Bandits have the ball.
9:44 p.m. - Tavares scores into an empty net, and the Bandits win, 15-13. Quite a win.
--- Budd Bailey