5/26/2019 1:00:00 AM / Nick Konotopskyj
The stakes could not have been higher in Game 2 of the NLL Finals as the Bandits were facing elimination on the road, but they ended up falling just short on Saturday.
The Roughnecks got the game-winning goal from Rhys Duch in overtime and defeated the Bandits, 14-13, to win the NLL Finals.
Buffalo tied the game with less than 30 seconds remaining in regulation on a goal from Corey Small and then had a few golden opportunities to start overtime. The biggest chance came from Shawn Evans, who was stopped right in front of the net by Calgary goalie Christian Del Bianco. Calgary scored the game-winning goal directly after that sequence.
Evans (2+5) and Dhane Smith (1+6) both tallied seven points for the Bandits to lead the team in scoring. Corey Small (2+2) and Jordan Durston (3+1) each had four points. Calgary’s Dane Dobbie led the team once again with seven points (4+3) and was named NLL Finals MVP.
Matt Vinc struggled early in this game but performed very well in the second half, finishing with 37 saves on 51 shots for Buffalo. Calgary goalie Christian Del Bianco made 43 saves on 56 shots faced as Buffalo’s comeback attempt fell just short.
This season was truly one for the books thanks to you, Banditland.— Buffalo Bandits (@NLLBandits) May 26, 2019
You’re the best in the league. We’ll see you next season. pic.twitter.com/cd0ToS43mV
Dobbie scored the first goal of the game on the power play for Calgary to make it 1-0 just two and a half minutes into action. Shawn Evans produced the first Bandits goal of the game to make it 1-1 with under 10 minutes left in the opening quarter.
After Calgary’s Riley Loewen regained the lead for the Roughnecks, Buffalo quickly struck back with two goals within less than one minute from Chris Cloutier and Chase Fraser to make it 3-2 Bandits. Corey Small added his first goal of the game on the power play to make it a three-goal run for the Bandits and give them a two-goal advantage.
The Roughnecks got a goal from Curtis Dickson late in the quarter, but the Bandits took that 4-3 lead into the second quarter. Evans started the second quarter by scoring his second goal of the game to make it 5-3 Buffalo. However, Calgary scored the next five goals of the game. They came right back to score two consecutive goals from Jesse King and Zach Currier, then Tyler Burton scored the third consecutive goal for the Roughnecks to make it 6-5 Calgary midway through the second quarter.
Calgary then added another goal on the power play from Tyler Pace and Loewen gave the Roughnecks their largest lead of the game at 8-5. The Bandits were set to go into halftime with some momentum when Fraser scored his second goal of the game on the power play with seven seconds left, but Dobbie added another Roughnecks goal with 0.4 seconds remaining to make it 9-6 at half.
The first goal of the third quarter didn’t come until nine minutes in, when Fraser scored another power-play goal to make it 9-7. Jordan Durston scored his first goal of the game shortly after that and then Matt Spanger continued the Buffalo run with a transition goal to make it 9-9. After Dobbie regained the lead for Calgary on the power play, Durston scored another goal for the Bandits to make it 10-10 after the third quarter.
Calgary got off to a hot start in the fourth quarter as Rhys Duch and Dickson scored back-to-back goals to make it 12-10 Roughnecks with 13:54 left in regulation. It took until the middle of the fourth quarter, but Buffalo was able to tie the game again with goals from Durston and Dhane Smith. Dobbie gave the Roughnecks the lead at 13-12 with just 55 seconds remaining when he took the long pass from Del Bianco and finished on his chance. However, the Bandits were not done yet.
Corey Small scored the game-tying goal with 28 seconds left and the goalie pulled, sending the game to overtime. The Bandits had their chances at putting the game away in the extra period, but Duch delivered for Calgary with the championship clinching goal for the Roughnecks.
With the loss, Buffalo’s season comes to an end while this is Calgary’s first NLL title since 2009.