7:06 p.m. - This ought to be a fun night.
The Buffalo Bandits and Rochester Knighthawks are about 30 minutes from competing in the NLL East final. The Bandits won the first game last week back in Buffalo and thus has an advantage. However, Rochester has the home field for tonight, and that could be important. If Rochester wins the 60-minute game here this evening, the teams will take a break for a couple of minutes and then play a 10-minute game. The winner of that goes on to play Calgary for the title in the next two weeks.
We're all trying to figure out the ins and outs of the mini-game concept. What did we learn last night? Calgary dominated the second half but fell short in the opener. The Roughnecks just kept playing that way in the 10-minute game and wound up winners, 2-1. I'm still surprised that Edmonton was unable to get good shots from close range, but the Roughnecks had something to do with it.
That has one immediate effect on tonight's game. If Rochester advances, it will have the home field advantage for Games Two and Two-Point-Sixteen (the mini-game). Edmonton had the best record in the regular season. The Bandits had the fourth-best record of the four teams, so they were set to be home first no natter what happened.
By the way, Rochester is trying to become the first team in league history to win three straight titles. The Bandits won two in a row in 1992-93, but have only won two others since then.
7:24 p.m. - One issue that might come up - the Bandits do have some experience up front. Will the Knighthawks try to be a bit more, um, energetic in the game to tire Buffalo out? Would it make a difference in the mini-game? We'll see.
Meanwhile, there has been lots of chatter about John Tavares possibly playing his last game on a given night. There has been nothing official about it, but he's at least pondering it. That could give an emotional boost to the Bandits.
Aaron Wilson, Mitch Jones and Glen Bryan are out for the Bandits. Jamie Batson and Craig Point will set for the Knighthawks. The game is on youtube.com. Just don't forget about your friends back here.
7:29 p.m. - NLL Commissioner George Daniel just stopped by to say hello. My first question - how do you get from Edmonton to Rochester quickly? He said he flew to Hamilton and was driven here. Daniel mentioned what a roller-coaster last night was for the Edmonton fans - win the regulation game, even the series, and then lose the mini-game.
This could be a noisy night. Bandit Nation certainly has made the trip down the Thruway. I wouldn't say it is 50-50 in terms of fans, but Buffalo may produce more decibels per person. (There's a phrase I've never used before.)
7:47 p.m. - Bandits jump out to a 2-1 lead on goals by Dhane Smith and Ryan Benesch. Both teams have had some 30-second violations, as the intensity level seems to have picked up a notch.
7:56 p.m. - Dhane Smith sees his shot dribble across the line to double the Buffalo lead to 3-1. This is one noisy building.
8:06 p.m. - That might be the most intense quarter I've ever seen. The 4-4 score is exactly right. Rochester scored three straight goals to take the lead, and Jamie Rooney answered with 23 seconds left.
8:18 p.m. - Can't let Cody Jamieson get open shots. He converted on two of them, and the Knighthawks have taken a 6-4 lead. Buffalo has a power play right now; it would be a good idea to score on it to change the momentum a bit.
8;25 p.m. - Rochester runs the lead up to 9-4 with five straight goals. Johnny Powless has two of them. Funny how things can turn so quickly.
8;30 p.m. - No change in the score with 4:32 left in the half.
8:37 p.m. - Knighthawks take 10-5 lead into locker room at halftime. Those 6-1 periods will kill you.
8:55 p.m. - Back to work.
9:03 p.m. - Knighthawks build lead to 11-5 on Scott Campbell goal. The mini-game is lurking in the foreground now.
9:11 p.m. - John Tavares is on the scoreboard, coming off the bench as a trailer and scoring. That cut the lead to 11-6. Rory Smith is seen frequently smacking the back of Cody Jamieson with his stick. How do these guys get out of bed the next morning?
9:17 p.m. - Knighthawks finish three quarters with the 11-6 lead, and the Rochester fans appreciate it.
9:28 p.m. - Rochester is up 12-6 with 8:55 left.
9:34 p.m. - Knighthawks now have a 13-8 lead with 5:17 left.
9:42 p.m. - And that's the way it ends. A short break, and on to the mini-game.
9:50 P.M. - No score with 5:10 left in mini-game.
9:54 p.m. - Joe Resetarits' goal gives Bandits 1-0 lead. 2:48 left. Terrific drama.
9:58 p.m. - McCready's goal ties it. Bandits ball with 35 seconds to go. What more could you want?
10:01 p.m. - How about sudden-death overtime?
10":06 p.m. - Vitarelli wins it at 1:56 for Rochester. Not much to choose from here, but the Knighthawks came through.
-- Budd Bailey