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Bandits' notebook: The guessing game continues

You'd have to think the Bandits are closing in on a coaching decision as they decide who will replace Darris Kilgour. There's no great hurry, since life in the National Lacrosse League is pretty quiet from the end of the playoffs until the time near the draft. Still, it would be good to get the matter settled in the near future.

If I were doing the hiring, I'd probably get out the clipboard and start making up lists of good points and bad points of possible candidates. The names that are making the rounds the most these days as finalists are Troy Cordingley, Rich Kilgour and Ed Comeau. I'm not prepared to say those are the last candidates standing - a couple of other names have popped up - but let's take a look at the three of them.

As one league source put it, all three are good lacrosse people. They all would be more than acceptable and rational picks to coach the Bandits.

Troy Cordingley - He's the current coach of the year, and won a championship with the Toronto Rock. Cordingley once played for the Bandits and served as an assistant coach. He also has a strong relationship with Buffalo GM Steve Dietrich through their time together in Toronto. The biggest catch might be that he has a similar coaching style to Darris Kilgour, one that might have exhausted the players in Toronto and led to his departure. A different approach for coaching the Bandits might be a good idea after several years of "intense."

Rich Kilgour - You want a guy with connections to the Bandits? This is your man, since he's more or less been part of the franchise since Day One. Kilgour is a head coach in Ontario in the summer, and knows the game. He's also a warm person. If you wouldn't run through the boards for him as a player, something's wrong with you. Rich's biggest drawback might be that he's part of the old coaching staff, and thus wouldn't exactly be a clean break from the past. Would it be odd for a sports team to hire the younger brother of the coach it just fired?  The Washington Capitals once fired Bryan Murray and hired Terry Murray, so anything's possible.

Ed Comeau - The veteran coach's only tie to Buffalo is that he was an assistant in Ontario under former Bandits' coach Les Bartley. He was a head coach in Rochester and New York/Orlando, and has been a part of five championship teams. Comeau lives just up the road in Hamilton, and did a good job keeping the Titans competitive during what was must have been a difficult situation because of the financial problems that eventually led to the team's collapse. Currently an assistant in Colorado, the chance to come back East as a head coach would have to be attractive. The lack of a Buffalo pedigree might hurt his chances, particularly when it comes to the reaction of the fan base.

Cordingley still is considered the favorite by most, simply because of his track record and of his  connection to Buffalo. We'll just have to see who wins.

P.S. Since this was written, I've heard that Comeau is not the winner. Hmmm.

--- Budd Bailey

Lacrosse: The Stealth move again

The Stealth of the National Lacrosse League are starting to do an impression of the Sacramento Kings of the National Basketball Association.

The Kings started in Rochester way back when. They moved to Cincinnati, then to Kansas City-Omaha, and finally to Sacramento. The team motto practically has been "Go West, Young Men."

The Stealth started as the Albany Attack in 2000, and lasted four years. Owners couldn't make the team go there, so it was off to San Jose. Instead of moving West after that (Honolulu?), the franchise went north to the state of Washington.

Alas, that didn't work well either. The team announced today that it was moving to the Vancouver area. The Vancouver Stealth will play in Langley Events Center in Langley, British Columbia. If that sounds familiar, the championship game was played there in May when Washington's facility was booked.

Everyone associated with indoor lacrosse figured Vancouver would be a natural stop for the league. The area has a pool of players, which means the fans don't have to be introduced to the game. Vancouver's rivalries with Edmonton and Calgary will jump a couple of notches.

The catch, of course, is that Langley is not Vancouver. It's quite a distance away - an hour or so by car, according to the stories I've read today, if there's only a little traffic. The building also holds 5,200 people, as that was the sellout number for the championship game. It will be tough for the Stealth to compete against Buffalo and Colorado with that size of a building.

Speaking of those two other teams, they are the obvious blueprint for success -- have the larger big-league teams in town own the lacrosse team, and use marketing synergy to cross-promote the franchises. There are all sorts of savings involved in terms of costs.

I'm sure the league tried to find someone who would put a team in downtown Vancouver. If that option isn't viable, this might turn out to be a good intermediate step. If the franchise sells out in Langley, maybe that could lead to a move to Vancouver proper down the road.

In the meantime, I feel sorry for people back in Everett, Wash., area. That was quite a distance from downtown Seattle, and it was tough for lacrosse to make an impact on the crowded Seattle sports calendar from that distance. That's in spite of the fact that the team did quite well there for the most part, a record that included a championship and a couple of appearances in the finals.

The road to franchise stability no doubt will be easier in British Columbia, and that's good. But it's still not going to be easy. Any more north for the team, and the Bandits will be hosting the Fairbanks Stealth any year now.

--- Budd Bailey

Bandits Blog: What's next?

The Buffalo Bandits may be better in 2014 than they were in 2013. They may be worse. They'll definitely be different.

The news about the departure of Darris Kilgour on Monday was shocking but not surprising, if you know what I mean. When a team goes on a six-game losing streak and is the only team in the league to miss the playoffs, the coach obviously is a likely target. In some sports, waiting six weeks to make such a decision would be odd, but indoor lacrosse works under a different clock.

Still, Kilgour was a public face of the franchise. Except for a brief break more than a decade ago, he's been with the team since Day One as either a player or head coach. Yes, John Tavares has been with the team non-stop, but Kilgour has been more visible as the coach and major spokesman to the media. Kilgour also brought an aggressive style of play to the team that had its good points (the Bandits were always tough to play against) and bad points (sometimes that spilled into bad penalties). But until the past few seasons, the Bandits always won.

There have been rumors of front office disharmony throughout the season. Kilgour shot down any talk of problems with general manager Steve Dietrich, but said he didn't agree on some issues over the years with Director Dave Zygaj. And we know who wins that type of argument, ultimately - the boss, one way or another.

Any Bandits coach and general manager has a different sort of pressure than many teams in the National Lacrosse League. Many of the other franchises are worried about staying afloat and not losing money. The Bandits, as well as Colorado, draw about 15,000 per game. That means they're certain to keep playing from year to year, but they also need to keep the turnstiles humming by winning.

Was that a factor in some of the Bandits' personnel decisions? Hard to know from the outside. Certainly, though, the Bandits were quick to give up high draft choices in trades for veterans, especially at a time when the league was getting younger and more athletic by the year. In other words, the deals sending first-round picks for players like Tom Montour and Tracey Kelusky haven't worked out as well as was hoped.

So now what? The first phone call probably goes to Tavares, so he can be asked, "Have you made a decision on playing next year?" followed by "Are you interested in becoming a coach?" If he wants the job, it would be tough to turn him down.

Troy Cordingley is an obvious candidate, with many Buffalo connections and a proven track record as a winner. He is the current NLL coach of the year. One catch - Cordingley and Kilgour do bring the same intensity to the game, and it's easy to wonder if a different approach might be appropriate for the Bandits after 11 years of Kilgour's fire.

Speaking of that, Rich Kilgour certainly would offer a more relaxed approach if he were moved up to head coach. He knows the game, and is a head coach in summer ball. Rich has the type of personality that creates a level of warmth. Still, it's hard to picture him taking over the Bandits - if only because of family loyalty.

From there, who knows? There are plenty of people out there with coachng experience, and the job certainly will attract plenty of phone calls. Lacrosse is a small world where everyone knows everyone, and Dietrich like any GM probably had a list of coaching candidates in his desk just in case.

As for Darris, I wouldn't be surprised to see him connected with Rochester at some point, although I'm not suggesting that he immediately take over a team that has won two straight championships under Mike Hasen. But the league would be less interesting and colorful without him around in some capacity over the long term.

--- Budd Bailey

Kilgour out as Bandits coach

The Buffalo Bandits have announced that Darris Kilgour will not return as coach of the team for the 2014 season.

Kilgour had been coach of the team since 2003, when he took over for Frank Nielsen. During that time, he had not missed the playoffs until 2013, when the Bandits finished last in the National Lacrosse League's East Division with a 6-10 record. He departs with a career coaching record of 103-73, and is the NLL's all-time leader in coaching wins with 121.

"It’s never easy making this type of decision," said Scott Loffler, Bandits director of lacrosse operations. "However, we felt that a change at head coach is needed at this time to turn things around. What makes this decision especially difficult is that we are parting ways with Darris Kilgour, who has been an integral part of the success and history of the Buffalo Bandits. Words cannot express our gratitude for what Darris has done for this organization and there is no doubt he will have success in lacrosse circles in the future. We wish him the best of luck."

“It was an incredibly tough decision,” said Bandits General Manager Steve Dietrich. “Because when I think of the Buffalo Bandits I think of Darris Kilgour and John Tavares. I had the pleasure of playing with, for, and against Darris and I love his utter belief in the Bandits organization. We believe we need a new voice and a new vision behind the bench to lead the new generation of Bandits as we continue to strive to bring the Champion’s Cup back where it belongs.”

The team said in a news release that the search for a successor will begin immediately. The name of former Troy Cordingley certainly will come up in any discussion about the position. Cordingley, who lost his job with the Rock earlier in the offseason, is a former player and assistant coach of the Bandits.

--- Budd Bailey

Bandits notebook: Change in Toronto

I've been following indoor lacrosse for the past five years, and there were basically two teams in the National Lacrosse League where the coach and franchise seem linked at the hip. One of them was Buffalo, where always fired-up Darris Kilgour certainly met that standard. The other was Toronto, where Troy Cordingley brought the same sort of attitude and approach to the job in the past four years. (Admittedly, I don't see the Western teams as much.)

Imagine my surprise, then, when word came out Friday that Cordingley had lost his coaching job with the Rock.

You could just see the intensity that Cordingley brought to each game behind the bench. When Toronto played Buffalo, I wondered if the two coaches competed to see who could yell the loudest. I've heard Cordingley rage after games despite having a locker room wall between us. It' was difficult to picture Cordingley in his day job - kindergarten teacher - at such times. Still, his interviews were always interesting. He knew the game and had a sense of humor.

When word filtered around the lacrosse world that Cordingley had been shown the door, I assume I had the same reaction as every other lacrosse follower in Buffalo: Hmmmmm.

The Bandits are coming off a season in which they were the only team to miss the playoffs, which certainly didn't go over well. General manager Steve Dietrich was essentially told that former general manager Darris Kilgour would stay on as coach no matter who got the job. That's unusual and potentially awkward, although both men have said in public that their arrangement worked fine and haven't hinted about changing it.

Meanwhile, Cordingley is a former player (a rookie in the perfect season of 1993) and assistant coach with the Bandits. And Dietrich is a former Toronto assistant coach under Cordingley.

Add all that together, and it's easy to at least wonder if Cordingley could have a role for the Bandits at some point in the future. It's hard to believe that Cordingley would return as an assistant coach under Kilgour; the reaction might be "been there, done that" - although I've heard the two were a very good combination in terms of coaching here. But maybe there's an immediate fit somewhere else in the organization. And if nothing else, if Kilgour does depart at some point in the relatively near future for any reason, everyone will be wondering if Cordingley is swinging a bat in the on-deck circle if he didn't have a job at the time.

I thought it would be interesting to see how the Bandits reacted to their 10-loss season before Cordingley's departure. That news bulletin adds just a bit of additional drama to the offseason.

--- Budd Bailey

Lacrosse Notebook: An unusual final

Considering the parity in the National Lacrosse League this season, we all expected an unusual playoff run. But the championship game ought to be memorable if only for its location.

The Washington Stealth will host the Rochester Knighthawks on Saturday night. But the game won't be played in the Stealth's usual arena. It's booked for the weekend. It won't even be played in the United States. The Stealth opted to move its game to Langley, British Columbia, where some NLL exhibition games will be played. I believe the building holds about 5,500, and it will be interesting to see how many fans make the drive up.

Plan B was moving the game back to Rochester. About six years ago, Rochester's arena was booked for the night of the final, and the Knighthawks couldn't find a location in upstate New York. So it was off to Phoenix. This time, the NLL Board of Governors accepted Langley as a suitable location.

I like the way Rochester is playing defense right now, so I'd have to lean toward the Knighthawks. If you remember, Rochester and Washington opened the season against each other out West, and now they get to close the show.

Elsewhere, some of you may know that I have a Bandits' history web site. When I first started covering the team, I realized I didn't know anything about the history of the franchise ... and there was no place to find the information. Therefore, I wrote it myself.

Updating it each year is something of a fun assignment, in part because I have the chance to include a few videos. Makes the story-telling part a little different. Feel free to visit it at: http://banditshistory.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-2012-13-season.html

And tell your lacrosse-loving friends.

--- Budd Bailey

Live from First Niagara Center: Bandits vs. Knighthawks

6:53 p.m. - What more could you ask from a lacrosse game? Everything on the line for both teams. A record crowd in the house.

OK, maybe the weather could be warmer. But the Bandits and Knighthawks are ready to go at 7:30 p.m. If you aren't here, you can watch the game on the CBS Sports Network.

As you hopefully read today, the Bandits are out of the playoffs if they lose tonight. They will play Philadelphia somewhere in the first round if they win. Rochester wraps up a playoff spot with a win, but would need help from Minnesota if it loses.

The biggest news out of the morning shootaround was the calf injury of John Tavares. He did not fully participate in the workout, and was questionable for tonight's game. We'll see if you pops up on the list of scratches.

Darris Kilgour said he expects Anthony Cosmo will be in goal tonight, barring any complications from his concussion from two weeks ago.

7:13 p.m. - Scratches are full of surprises. Tavares is in the lineup, and Kurtis Wagar is in the starting lineup. Hmmm. Steve Priolo, who was supposed to have a hearing on his league suspension, is also playing.

Luke Wiles, Derek Hopcroft and Hayden Smith will sit.

7:26 p.m. - The Bandits just introduced their fan of their year. Words fail me in trying to describe his suit.

7:31 p.m. - Just retweeted a photo of the suit @WDX2BB, so take a look. And if you aren't following me, you can help me get to 200 followers (I'm at 199).

7:38 p.m. - Bandits had a moment of silence for those who affected by events in Boston.

7:47 p.m. - Can't ask for a better start out of Buffalo. Bandits lead, 2-0. D. Smith and Wilson with the goals. And as I type, Craig Point narrows the lead to 2-1.

7:56 p.m. - Shawn Williams and Dhane Smith have the lead up to 4-1.

8:01 p.m. - Matt Vinc has faced seven shots so far and made three saves. Buffalo has 4-2 lead at the TV timeout.

8:12 p.m. - John Tavares' goal was wiped out after review. We are tied, 4-4, after 15 minutes. Rochester has to feel relatively good about taking a shot early in the game in terms of the energy of the full house, and coming back to tie.

8:22 p.m. - This game definitely has settled down. There hasn't been much action in the first five minutes of the second period. Have to think that would help the Knighthawks.

8:27 p.m. - Matt Vinc has broken the NLL record for saves in a season. He went past 644 by Rob Blasdell  of Albany in 2002. Consider yourself a trivia expert if you knew that and didn't live in Rochester. 

8:32 p.m. - Dan Dawson has scored two goals in a row for the Knighthawks. That makes it 6-4, Rochester. And that's five straight goals for the Knighthawks.

8:38 p.m. - Bandits have given up runs of 11 goals in a row, 9 and 8. Rochester is at six and counting.

8:39 p.m. - Power-play goal by Wilson puts an end to that streak. Buffalo needed that one badly.

8:43 p.m. - We go to halftime with Rochester leading, 7-5. I go to the radio booth for an interview with John Gurtler.

9:02 p.m. - We're back. Buffalo could use the boost of a power-play goal to start the third quarter.

9:07 p.m. - They got that power-play goal, Shawn Williams dribbling one in. It's 7-6 with 9:39 left in the third quarter. Bandits playing with a little more energy. And now, in tribute to Mike Harrington, we have the blooper reel on the video board.

9:17 p.m. - Hat trick for Craig Point, who has been outstanding for the Knighthawks. It's 8-6 with 4:50 to go in third quarter.

9:25 p.m. - Billy Dee Smith just ran over a Rochester player on a two-on-one break and scored to cut the lead to 8-7.

9:28 p.m. - Joel McCready increases the Knighthawks lead to 9-7 after three quarters.

9:38 p.m. - Bandits trail, 10-8, with 9:52 to go.

9:53 p.m. - Two minutes left, and it's still 10-8. Time is now a factor, as the cliche goes.

9:58 p.m. - Steenhuis goal isn't enough. Bandits lose 10-9. Season is over.

11:51 p.m. - My two stories on the game will be posted on line in the near future. (The notebook features a conversation with John Tavares about his future.) Short version - after a good start, the Bandits had a long stretch where they couldn't get enough done. They rallied in the end but fell short. If this sounds like a description of the entire season, you are thinking like I'm thinking.

For those of you wondering, Darris Kilgour said he saw signs of progress at the end and hopes he's lucky enough to take on the challenge of continuing the rebuilding the team as head coach next season. I don't think 6-10 and missing the playoffs will go over well in a town with such good fan support. Could be an active offseason, although it will be too long for everyone's tastes.

It's been another interesting season. I appreciate the kind words of readers/fans throughout the season. Let's do it again in January.

--- Budd Bailey

Bandits notebook: Tough road ahead

The weekend is over for National Lacrosse League teams, and the situation has become clearer for the Buffalo Bandits. Their playoff hopes have been reduced to slim, and none might arrive before we know it. Here's a recap:

There were five teams entering this weekend that were stuck on five wins for the season. Four of them won a game - Philadelphia, Rochester, Minnesota and Colorado. Buffalo did not, getting thumped by Minnesota. In Sunday play, Toronto beat Rochester while Philadelphia ended a losing streak with a win over Minnesota.

Let's then start with the obvious in looking at some of the playoff possibilities. If the Bandits lose their two remaining games, their postseason hopes are dead. They'll be at 5-11.

What's more, Buffalo could be done as early as Saturday night. If the Bandits lose to Washington while Rochester beats Calgary, Buffalo could do no better than 6-10 while Rochester would have seven wins with two to play. Philadelphia could lose its last two but win a tiebreaker with Buffalo if both were 6-10.

And ... in the crossover, either Minnesota and Colorado, which play against each other in their last two games, still could finish 6-10. Even so, Colorado would have the tiebreaker on Buffalo if both had 6-10 records because of head-to-head results. Minnesota would have the edge on goal differential in head-to-head games. The Bandits and Swarm split their two games, and they did not play any teams the same number of times (for example, Buffalo played Toronto three times and Minnesota played Toronto twice).

A Buffalo win over Washington and a loss to Rochester would have the same effect. The Bandits would be 6-10, and still lose tiebreakers to Philadelphia (assuming two losses there) and either Minnesota or Colorado.

Need some good news? If Buffalo loses to Washington and beats Rochester, it would finish 6-10. If the Knighthawks finished 6-10 (losses to Calgary and Edmonton as well), the Bandits would win a tiebreaker because it had won three of four with Rochester.

If I'm reading the rules right -- if Rochester, Philadelphia and Buffalo all finished 6-10, the Bandits would have a 4-3 record against the other two, Philadelphia would be 3-3 and Rochester would be 3-4. That would give Buffalo second place in the division - which would give it a home game in the first round of the playoffs.

Bet you didn't see that coming.

If the Bandits finish 7-9, they still could be behind both Philadelphia and Rochester if those two teams swept. Buffalo would win a tiebreaker from Rochester but lose it to Philadelphia. In case of a three-way tie, the Bandits again would again have the best head-to-head record against the other two teams and take second.

OK, the Bandits don't look as if they are capable of beating anyone right now. Traveling 2,600 miles to play a team that has a chance at first place in the West will make it more difficult.

The Bandits have a pulse. But it's faint. Very faint.

--- Budd Bailey

Bandits notebook: Spinning into the ground

I won't try to comment on the particulars of Saturday's loss by the Bandits in Minnesota, since I didn't see any of it. (We have a paper to put out.) But you probably know the ugly statistical notes.

The worst loss in team history. The longest losing streak in team history (they also lost six in a row last year). The most consecutive losing seasons in team history (two). The most consecutive goals allowed in a game (11) since 2008 - as far back as I have records.

The Bandits are obviously in free fall, and seem incapable of winning a game right now - but it only takes one game to change that. That needs to happen from a Buffalo standpoint, because the news wasn't good around the rest of the league either on Saturday.

Colorado surprised Edmonton, and Rochester beat Philadelphia. That means Buffalo and Philadelphia are the only five-win teams in the league, and the Wings have the tiebreaker and a game in hand.

Buffalo's opponent next week, Washington, won in Calgary Saturday night. So the Stealth, Edmonton and Calgary are all tied for the lead at 8-6 in the West. That means Washington has plenty to play for next week when the Bandits visit.

One other issue of interest - one story out of Minnesota indicated Anthony Cosmo was injured. It's never helpful to have your number one goalie out at times like these, although we'll have to see what his status is for the coming games.

Two games are on the Sunday slate. Rochester is at Toronto, and Bandits fans should be rooting for the Rock in that one. The Knighthawks want to make the season-ending game here meaningless in terms of the playoffs if at all possible. Meanwhile, Minnesota is at Philadelphia. Both teams will be tired in playing an afternoon game. A Buffalo-Minnesota tiebreaker is difficult to figure at the moment, since the season series is tied. Someone will gain ground on the Bandits, though.

We'll know a little more tomorrow. The coming week, meanwhile, will give us time to ponder what is turning into an historic collapse.

--- Budd Bailey

Live from Toronto: Bandits vs. Rock

6:44 p.m. -- It's Good Friday, which means it's something of a holiday in Toronto. The Bandits and Rock are about to get ready to play an important game in the Air Canada Centre.

Both teams ought to be in a bad mood tonight. The Bandits got spanked by Edmonton on Saturday night. Then the Rush turned right around the next afternoon and clobbered the Rock. Both sides, then, are interested in righting the ship. It's more important for the Bandits, since they are in the midst of a playoff fight. Any win would be appreciated after losing four in a row.

As usual as of late, some of the pregame drama centers on the Bandits lineup. The scratches were announced as Mike McNamara, Jamie Rooney and Hayden Smith. Luke Wiles has supposedly been activated off the practice squad, but there's no official word of that yet. We should see the official lineup soon. Someone would have to be dropped off the roster to make room for Wiles if the story is true.

Speaking of roster moves, old friend Mike Thompson has been signed to a one-year contract by Philadelphia. He was prompted put on the holdout list, proving once again that the word "holdout" has different meanings than it does in other sports. Nick Cotter went on the holdout list when the Bandit took a hit to the head at home recently.

As for the Rock, it plays Rochester tomorrow. Two wins this weekend would wrap up the East. After winning five of six, Toronto has gone 3-3. The Rock plays nothing but East teams the rest of the way, including one game with Phliadelphia and another one with Rochester here.  So clearly, Toronto will have something to say about the playoff race.

Tonight's game is on espn3.com, as it is being broadcast by TSN here in Canada and picked up in the U.S. by ESPN. Youtube is not showing the game in North America.

Lots going on this weekend, with Canisius and Niagara in the NCAA hockey tournament. Meanwhile, of interest to, well, Syracuse grads, the NCAA basketball tournament continues through Sunday. But, the game in front of us ought to be worth our time.

7:02 p.m. - There's a familiar name on the Rock. Roger Vyse, the ex-Bandit, is playing in his first game with Toronto. Good guy.

7:07 p.m. -- Dropping the first ball tonight - Roberto Alomar. Wonder if he has ever seen a game?

Luke Wiles is dressed and in the lineup. We'll see if we can find out how he got there.

7:13 p.m. - Glen Bryan scored a short-handed goal for Buffalo, followed by a good-sized scrum behind the Toronto net. Guess we were right to figure these teams would be a in a bad mood after last weekend.

7:16 p.m. - Not much room in the penalty box.

7:23 p.m. - Another scrum has broken out, with the score 2-1 Toronto with 8:14 left in the period. Looks like Derek Hopcroft and his dance partner will be sitting for a while.

The answer to the Wiles roster spot is probably the obvious one - I assume Chad Culp has gone on injured reserve. The league as a whole sometimes doesn't do a great job of keeping everyone informed of roster moves.

7:32 p.m. - It's still 2-1, Toronto with 4:55 left in the quarter. Shots are 12-7 for the Rock, perhaps because of power play time.

7:37 p.m. - Wiles already has two minor penalties, and seems frustrated. It's now 4-1, Toronto.

7:40 p.m. - Dhane Smith gets one back for the Bandits near the end of the quarter. Buffalo trails, 4-2. I'm not sure if Dhane Smith is the most valuable player on the team, but the rookie has been very consistent this season.

7:52 p.m. - Still 9:49 left in the second quarter, and the Rock has a 6-4 lead. Buffalo got it down to 5-4 on goals by Hopcroft and Hominuck, but Bill Greer replied for Toronto right of the faceoff. Refs are calling a lot of penalties, and the Buffalo bench got a unsportsmanlike conduct penalty while the team was on a delayed penalty.

8:00 p.m. - While we wait for a review of a Buffalo goal, the arena has played an entire dance mix of a song. Bad news for the Bandits at the end, as it was waved off. Still 6-4.

8:05 p.m. - Nothing new on the scoresheet for a change lately. Toronto still lead 6-4.

8:15 p.m. - We had a bit of a flurry in the final minutes of the half. Shawn Williams's low shot beat Nick Rose with 1.1 seconds left to narrow the margin to 7-6, Toronto. John Tavares had scored with 12:29 gone in the period. Considering Buffalo's penalty problems, it has to be relatively happy to only be down a goal.

8;33 p.m. - We're back in action, and Colin Doyle has already scored for the Rock (18 seconds).

8:37 p.m. - Danger time for the Bandits. Toronto has scored three goals in 3:39 to take a 10-6 lead. Buffalo has come out a bit flat.

8:40 p.m. - Make it four straight Toronto goals to start the period. Wagar in for Cosmo in the Buffalo net.

8:41 p.m. - Doesn't help. Five in a row, 12-6. And shots are 40-23, Toronto.

8:43 p.m. - This is the fourth straight game that Wagar has come on in relief of Cosmo. In fairness, one of them was the home game in Toronto, when Wagar came on after the line brawl.

8:49 p.m. -- When it goes badly ... Shawn Williams' apparent score is wiped out after a review.

8:56 p.m. - Toronto adds a short-handed goal, and then Wiles picks up two minors and Billy Dee Smith gets a slashing minor after the goal. I'd say it's going to be a long bus ride back to Buffalo, but most of the guys live in Ontario.

9:02 p.m. .- Third quarter mercifully ends, with Toronto up, 14-6. The Rock had a 7-0 edge in the thrid quarter. The Bandits don't keep a record for being outscored in a quarter, However, that matches the worst total by a Buffalo team since 2006. It was last done by Rochester in 2009. Ugly, ugly, ugly.

9:11 p.m. - Not getting any better as Toronto is ahead by 17-8. The 17 goals allowed is a season high for the Bandits.

9:23 p.m. - Just playing out the string here. It's 18-10 with 3:09 left.

9;32 p.m. - Mercifully over with an 18-11 final.

--- Budd Bailey

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