NLL Playoffs Week 3: Division Finals Game 2

There are at most four NLL games left in the season, and only three teams left. The Bandits now have a weekend off before facing either the Seals or Mammoth in the finals, and I’m sure that will be an awesome series. But what was awesome about last weekend? I’m glad you asked.

Awesome

Buffalo @ Toronto

You likely all know what happened in this game but if not, here’s my game review. Great defense, great goaltending, exciting finish, this game had it all.

San Diego @ Colorado

This game also had some pretty great defense and goaltending, and definitely an exciting finish. The game was close all night – the biggest lead was three goals, and that lasted less than a minute in the second quarter. The Mammoth were without Ryan Lee again, but credit to Pat Coyle and the Mammoth coaching staff for being able to adjust their offense to handle his absence for the second straight game. Yes, Lee was instrumental in getting the Mammoth to the playoffs, but they’ve proven that their success wasn’t just due to Lee, it was a true team effort. That said, I’m sure they’d be very happy if he’s able to return for game three.

Austin Staats is dangerous in any game, and this was no exception. Dane Dobbie has a reputation of coming up big in playoff games. Interestingly, his career points per game average in the playoffs is almost exactly the same as in the regular season. Obviously, he came up big in this one, scoring three in the first half, adding a couple of assists, and then of course scoring the game winner 2½ minutes into OT (video here – go to about 0:47 to see the OT goal). That goal was wild – Dobbie pushed by one defender and deked around another before shooting backwards over his left shoulder by Dillon Ward who couldn’t possibly have seen it coming.

The best thing about the Seals winning this game? We get to see these two teams play again next weekend.

Dhane Smith and all those who donated

In response to last week’s horrific shootings in Buffalo, Dhane Smith pledged to donate $50 for each Bandits goal on Saturday night to the Buffalo 5/14 Survivors Fund. Quickly, a number of other players, former players, and fans all pledged to match that donation. Nick Rose wanted to get involved as well, but I imagine actively trying to stop the Bandits from scoring made matching the same pledge a bit of a conflict, so the Rock donated $2500 to the cause. I don’t know if that came straight from Jamie Dawick or from the players or some combination, but regardless it was a classy move from the Rock to support a classy move from Smith and the others who matched the donation. Smith announced the morning after the game that over $15,000 was donated through all the people that matched Smith’s donation. That is incredible.

Bandits

Buffalo fans

At Saturday’s game in Hamilton, the entire section behind the Bandits bench was filled with Buffalo fans. I imagine Bandits fans are happy to be able to drive half as far to Rock games in Hamilton as they used to for games in Toronto, and there were a lot of them. Of course they brought their Bandits jerseys and t-shirts, but they also brought their B-O-X cardboard hats, their face paint, their flags, their enthusiasm, their voices, and even their cheers from Banditland. There were other Bandits fans scattered around the stadium as well and they combined with the Bandits section to make it much louder when the Bandits scored than is typical for a visiting team. It was fantastic.

Not Awesome

The clock on the broadcast

I mentioned this in my game report as well, but it appears that the game clock shown on the TSN broadcasts from Hamilton doesn’t quite match the game clock in the arena. This never happened in Toronto in the twenty years the Rock played there, and it’s happened in each of the last two games in Hamilton, so I imagine it’s an arena thing. When the people watching at home see a goal scored with 0.6 seconds on the clock and the refs say “time had expired, no goal”, it’s no wonder people started screaming that the refs had screwed the Rock over. Of course if you really think about this for a minute, it’s silly. If there truly was time left on the clock but the refs said there wasn’t, don’t you think Matt Sawyer and the Rock would have screamed bloody murder? The team would be filing appeals, the league would be investigating, it would be a huge thing. Instead, the Rock accepted the result and moved on.

Perhaps you think the refs wanted Buffalo to win. First of all, why? Secondly, if you believe in such a conspiracy, it would have to be all of the officials including the scorekeeper and shot clock operator. And again, the Rock would have loudly protested. Not to mention the fact that if the refs were really trying to help the Bandits win, there are ways to do that other than to choose something so blatant and provably wrong.

What they would have done is give the Rock more penalties. Toronto took no penalties in game one at all, and only three in game two that weren’t coincidental minors. Giving Buffalo extra power plays would have been a much easier way to lean things in their favour. People might have yelled that they were calling every little thing, but they do that anyway.

I wrote about refs, biases, and conspiracies ten years ago (Part I and Part II), and it all still applies today.

So no, there’s no ref conspiracy and yes, time had expired before the ball went in the net. The Bandits legitimately won that game. But TSN and/or the First Niagara Centre need to do something about the clock on the broadcasts.

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