Cosmo will play as a backup to Kurtis Wagar, who is starting his second straight game.
John Tavares is in the lineup tonight.
MORING SHOOTAROUND UPDATES:
Head coach Darris Kilgour indicated that Anthony Cosmo should be good to go tonight after sitting last week with a head injury.
Kilgour also said that captain John Tavares will be a game-time decision after tearing a calf-muscle in Saturday's game. Tavares practiced in a limited role this morning
About 300 tickets remain for tonight's game. The Bandits are expecting their largest crowd to date. The previous record is 18,690.
The Buffalo Bandits (6-9) have put their playoff fate in their own hands, as they prepare to take on the rival Rochester Knighthawks (7-8) on Saturday night. The Bandits finally snapped a six-game losing streak in Washington last weekend, and their playoff chances were kept alive when the Knighthawks lost to the Edmonton Rush.
“When you’re on a slide like we were, you try to prepare for a game anyway you can,” Bandits forward Shawn Williams said. “We tried to get back to basics, back to the style of lacrosse we can play, and all facets were clicking for us.”
“We’ve been saying do-or-die for the last seven weeks. We really came through this weekend,” Bandits assistant Rich Kilgour said. “We’re in a position where we win and we’re in and that’s our focus.”
Now, it all comes to down to a do-or-die regular season finale between the two long-time rivals. With a win, the Bandits will secure a playoff spot. Further more, a Bandits win and a loss by Philadelphia, would give the Bandits the 2nd overall seed in the East and secure a first-round home playoff game. Wins by both Buffalo and Philadelphia would put that game in Philadelphia.
“You look at all the scenarios. Basically, you win and you’re in, that’s the bottom line,” Williams said. “Wherever you end up playing, nobody really cares. You just want to get in.”
“Buffalo is a tough place to play. I’m sure they’re going to have a tough crowd,” Knighthawks forward Mike Accursi said. “We’re going to have to be prepared for that.”
A loss by the Bandits would eliminate them from playoff contention. The Knighthawks would not be completely out, as a Minnesota loss to Colorado would allow them to sneak into a playoff spot.
Williams has played for both teams in the past and is familiar with the rivalry from both sides. He said he is excited for the opportunity to play in a game of this magnitude.
“We have a chance. It didn’t look too good for a while there,” Williams said. “To be coming home and to be playing Rochester, you couldn’t ask for a better scenario.”
This will be the fourth meeting this season between the two teams. This season marks just the second time these two teams have faced each other four times, the first time being during the 2004 regular season. Buffalo currently leads the season series 2-1, with both wins coming in Rochester. They do, however, trail the overall series 21-27, and are 11-11 when playing the Knighthawks at the first Niagara Center.
“Nothing pops in my head that’s quite like this, where it’s win and you’re in,” Williams said. “We’re aware that, week in-week out, you can be on the other end of it.”
Williams is on pace to become the first player not named John Tavares or Mark Steenhuis since 1998 to lead the Bandits in points. Current head coach Darris Kligour lead the team in scoring that year with 67 points, Williams currently has 62.
The biggest question mark for the Bandits coming into the game is goaltending. Backup net minder Kurtis Wagar was pressed into the starting role last weekend, after regular starter Anthony Cosmo injured his head two weeks ago in Minnesota. Cosmo was able to take shots in practice this past week and will be a game-time decision.
On the other side, goaltending is perhaps the Knighthawks’ biggest certainty. Goaltender Matt Vinc has been rock solid for his squad in the backend all season long. Vinc is first in the league in both goals against average (10.25) and saves (636).
This will also be the first time the two teams face each other after two separate trade deadline deals that saw Jimmy Purves and Scott Self sent to Rochester and Alex Kedoh Hill sent to Buffalo. Although it’s likely that the focus will be less on players facing their former teams, and more on the goal of making the playoffs.
“The whole roster, we know each other inside and out. There’s a lot of love-hate relationships up and down the lineups,” Williams said. “There’s never an easier game to get up for. Let’s have at her and it’s going to be a fun night.”
Fans can get tickets at the First Niagara Center Box Office. Those not able to attend can catch the game on CBS Sports Network or can listen in on WBEN 930 AM/107.7 FM in Buffalo.