Ten or so things to know about Game 3 of the NLL Finals
The exceedingly competitive National Lacrosse League season gets the Finals series conclusion it deserves with a winner-take-all Game 3 between the defending champion Colorado Mammoth and Buffalo Bandits on Saturday at Buffalo’s KeyBank Center (7:30 p.m. ET, TSN, TSN+). The Game 1 broadcast trio of Jon Abbott, Pat Gregoire and Ashley Docking have the call.
A heart-stopping 13-12 Bandits win in the opener last Saturday was followed by a solid win by the Mammoth in Game 2 on Monday afternoon as the teams split on their own home floors. In the process, the NLL established a new all-time season attendance record of 1,147,232, surpassing the previous mark of 1,138,225 set in 2007.
Here are 10 (or thereabouts) Things to Know about the NLL Finals:
- These teams are well acquainted with each other: this will be their fourth matchup this season and eighth in the last two seasons
- Buffalo has scored first in all five playoff games. On the season the Bandits are 13-4 when scoring first
- The last time the NLL Finals saw the top overall seed taking on the lowest ranking seed was the 2008 NLL Finals, with the high seed Buffalo defeating the low seeded Portland LumberJax
- Buffalo’s Dhane Smith (Kitchener, Ont.) has already surpassed his point total from last season’s playoffs with 40 through five games this year compared to 35 in six games last year. With two points, he will surpass Eli McLaughlin’s record for points in a single postseason, set last year.
- Matt Vinc (St. Catharines, Ont.) has played a league record 13 NLL Finals games in his career, should he play in Saturday’s contest as expected, he will extend his lead. With a win, he will also be the first goaltender to reach 30 career playoff wins.
- On the other side of the floor, Mammoth goaltender Dillon Ward (Orangeville, Ont.) passed Pat O’Toole for the second most saves in postseason history. He now trails just Vinc
- The Bandits have outscored the Mammoth this postseason 74-70 despite playing one fewer game. They have also allowed 13 fewer goals this postseason
- Prior to the NLL Finals, the Bandits never trailed at any point during this postseason. In Game 1, the team trailed for a total of 3:49 while Game 2 saw them trail for 43:36 of game time
- The six goal differential in Game 2 is the most in the NLL Finals since Game 1 of the 2018 NLL Finals between Saskatchewan and Rochester, a 16-9 victory for the Rush
- No team in NLL history has made it to the Finals three seasons in a row and lost all three
- Teams hosting the deciding third game of a playoff series are 4-5 all-time (including mini-games)
- In win or go home playoff games the past two seasons, the Mammoth are a perfect 7-0
- The last time the lowest seed entering the playoffs made it to the NLL Finals was the 2012 Edmonton Rush. The last time the lowest seed entering the playoffs won the Championship was the 1997 Rochester Knighthawks defeating the Buffalo Bandits. It has only happened one other time with the 1987 Baltimore Thunder (now Colorado Mammoth franchise) in the then known Eagle Pro Box Lacrosse League in its first season
- Four teams have completed the comeback after losing Game 1 of a playoff series (including mini-games). Only once has it been done with a full game, Colorado in 2022
- The Mammoth are a perfect 9-0 this season when leading after three quarters. The Bandits are 12-1
To review the 2023 NLL Playoffs bracket, visit https://www.nll.com/standings/.