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Live from Air Canada Centre: Bandits vs. Rock

6:52 p.m. - It's take two on the live blog, but this should work. Hello from the playoffs. The Bandits and Rock are ready to go in a first round playoff game.

You remember playoff games, right? We haven't many lately. So this should be fun.

Bandits fans know the circumstances of this one. Buffalo stumbled down the stretch with eight straight losses. Toronto won its last four to grab the home field advantage. This is all about a second chance for the Bandits, who could erase some hard feelings with a win here.

6:54 p.m. - If you don't want to watch nll.com for the broadcast, I'll be here for you.

Troy Cordingley will go with a veteran lineup. Kevin Brownell and Mitch Jones are the scratches. Billy Dee Smith and Jamie Rooney will play. Joel Matthews has come off the roster, which probably means he came off to make room for Billy Dee.

Buffalo has lost three straight playoff games to Toronto, mostly in dramatic fashion. The Bandits certainly don't want to make it four.

And one obvious element. A Bandit loss could  - could - mean that this is the last game ever for such players as John Tavares and Shawn Williams. Tavares has talked about thinking about it, while Williams hasn't had a good year - although Shawn admitted has had a ton on his mind in the last few months. I'm sure they'd be happy to keep playing a while longer.

7:06 p.m. - And in case you are wondering, it's not exactly a sellout here. It's tough to sell tickets on short notice. The Bandits would have done better than this, but they probably would not have been close to a sellout either in a week.

Should be fun.

7;15 p.m. - Andrew Watt had the first goal of the game, giving the Bandits the lead. This may not seem like much, but I don't think the Bandits led at any point in two of their last three games (all losses.)

7:24 p.m. - Bandits are ahead, 2-1, with 4:38 left in the first quarter. Both sides seem a little tentative. Ryan Benesch has the other Buffalo goal. Leaving him alone by the net is a bad idea.

7:28 p.m. - One from Alan of nll.com - neither goalie has a playoff win in his career. Might end tonight ... but there could be a substitution. Now 4-1 Bandits.

7:34 p.m. - Rock get a goal from Kasey Beirnes to cut it to 4-2. Buffalo has done a good job of breaking down the Toronto defense. All of the goals have been a case of someone being open right by the net. Bandits can't complain much about the first 15 minutes.

7:47 p.m. - The scoring has picked up a bit. Buffalo has a 6-4 advantage. Mark Steenhuis hit the top corner with a bullet from about 25 feet, and Jamie Rooney converted a fast-break opportrunity. We have 8:39 left in the half.

7:53 p.m. - Colin Doyle's two straight goals tied the game at 6-6, but Ryan Benesch just scored his third of the night to put Buffalo back in front. It's 7-6 with 4:53 left in the first half. This has been a little more wide-open than I thought, but it's entertaining.

8:02 p.m. - Ryan Benesch broke a 7-7 tie in the final minute to give the Bandits an 8-7 lead after 30 minutes. That's four goals for him already. Impressive.

8:19 p.m. - Back to work.

8:26 p.m. - Kasey Beirnes ties it for the Rock. Dhane Smith was stopped shortly after that on a clean breakaway. We have 9:05 to go in the third quarter.

8:34 p.m. - Huge goal by Benesch (who else?) to get the Bandits back to even at 9-9 after Toronto seemed to have all the momentum. We have 4:19 left in third.

8:41 p.m. - The attendance is announced at 7,867. Emphasis on announced, although honestly I'm not here enough to give a guess as to how many people are actually here. It's 10-9, pending a review of a Benesch goal that would tie it. P.S. Count the goal.

8:45 p.m. - It's 10-10 after 45 minutes. Hold on to your hats; we're in for quite a ride.

8:56 p.m. - Bandits lead, 12-11, with 10:53 left.

8:58 p.m. - Benesch's seventh ties team record for goals in a playoff game. (Steenhuis, 2008)

9:07 p.m. - Bandits lead, 14-12, with 4:25 left.

9:19 p.m. - Bandits win, 15-13. Amazing. There are at least two more games left.

-- Budd Bailey

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About Sports, Ink

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey has served in a variety of roles in Buffalo sports in the past 35 years, including reporter, talk-show host, baseball announcer, public relations staffer and author. He covers the Bandits and running for The News when not working as an editor.

@WDX2BB | bbailey@buffnews.com

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