After five months of lacrosse there are only two teams left standing who will now battle it out for the 2019 NLL Championship. The Buffalo Bandits won the Eastern Division Final and Calgary Roughnecks won the Western Division Final in two games that featured incredible performances by the goalies. Let’s take a look at how the Bandits and the Roughnecks came out on top in their respective Division Finals this past weekend.
Calgary Roughnecks defeat the Colorado Mammoth 8-4
The Calgary Roughnecks were able to take advantage of a some missteps by the Colorado Mammoth to win the Western Division and earn a trip to the 2019 NLL Championship match in a game that was a stalemate for most of the 1st Half.
Both Colorado’s Dillon Ward and Calgary’s Christian Del Bianco were fantastic in net with Ward making 46 saves on 54 shots and Del Bianco making 47 saves on 51 shots. It seemed like both teams’ goalies and defense were not giving up an inch as the offenses could not generate many good chances early on in the longest stretch that teams have remained scoreless in NLL Playoff history. Things finally opened up when Calgary was able to score on the powerplay as they went 5 for 5 of the PP on the night. Curtis Dickson and Dane Dobbie led the way again offensively for Calgary with Dickson finishing with 2 goals and 2 assists and Dobbie with 2 goals and 4 assists. Tyler Burton also gave them a boost winning 11 of 16 faceoffs.
Colorado’s offense struggled to score and it ultimately cost them the game. They were 1 for 5 on the PP and just could not seem to string together goals like they were able to against Saskatchewan. Ryan Lee was a bright spot for the Mammoth with his 2 goals. Dillon Ward has been spectacular in net all season for the Mammoth despite their record and he did everything he could to keep them in this game, but they just could not capture the magic that they did against the Rush in the first round again.
Calgary moves on to face the Buffalo Bandits in the NLL Finals.
Last night was incredible! ?
— x – Calgary Roughnecks (@NLLRoughnecks) May 11, 2019
Buffalo Bandits defeat the Toronto Rock 12-8
The Buffalo Bandits had the 11,635 strong Banditland crowd behind them this past Saturday night as they faced their rivals the Toronto Rock. This was another battle of the goalies and Matt Vinc came out on top to help the Bandits win the Eastern Division Final and bring the 2019 NLL Championship game back to Buffalo.
Early on the Bandit’s offense struggled to get anything past Nick Rose who was playing his angles well and the Rock defense in front of him was pushing players to tough shooting spots. However, by the 2nd Quarter the Bandits offense came alive as Corey Small fired some quick stick shots past Rose and Bryce Sweeting cashed in on a transition goal. The Bandits defense also did a tremendous job keeping the dangerous Rob Hellyer and Tom Schreiber on the right side and the crafty Dan Craig and Johnny Powless on the left side scoreless.
The Bandits were leading 8-3 during the 3rd Quarter and the crowd was loud and feeling good until the Rock stormed back to go on a 4 goal run thanks to the determined play of Adam Jones. You could feel the tension in the arena as it was now 8-7 with the Bandits still holding a slim lead. However, the energy picked right back up as the Bandits went on a 4 goal run of their own and dominated the Rock for the rest of the game. Matt Vinc allowed less than 10 goals for the fourth straight game and was the backbone of the win for the #1 seeded Bandits.
Buffalo moves on to face the Calgary Roughnecks in the NLL Finals and the Bandits’ party is not showing any signs of stopping.
— Buffalo Bandits (@NLLBandits) May 12, 2019
After a long NLL season we have finally made it to the Championship series. The single elimination playoff games are over and the Bandits and Roughnecks will now play a three game series to decide who will hoist the NLL Cup this season.
Game 1 is this Saturday in Buffalo at 7:30 pm ET and can be watched on Bleacher Report Live.