BUFFALO — The Buffalo Bandits are now one win away from winning their first National Lacrosse League Champions Cup since 2008.
That means Silver Creek High School graduate and Salamanca native Frank Brown is one win away from his first title in the NLL.
Brown and the Bandits won the game in a photo finish on a defensive stand with goalie Matt Vinc making a huge save to maintain the 15-14 lead they just acquired.
When the game entered the final minute, the score was still tied at 14-14, but then came a rebound from a missed Colorado Mammoth shot. In transition, Nick Weiss caught a pass from Ian MacKay and went in on a breakaway where he made no mistake, beating Mammoth goalie Dillon Ward over the left shoulder for the lead.
While Brown celebrates another game closer to the goal of winning the Champions Cup, fellow Silver Creek graduate and former teammate Zed Williams left frustrated.
As Williams prepares with the Mammoth for Game 2 in Colorado, fans of his and Silver Creek lacrosse can celebrate his individual performance. We have all seen Williams go into playoff form when he won the Premier Lacrosse League with the Whipsnakes and also claimed the MVP award for his performance. That same player was there on Saturday, he just couldn’t find the same result.
Williams once again stuffed the stat sheet, showing off his elite goal-scoring prowess that’s been on display since he started playing lacrosse.
As he went, so did the Mammoth.
After taking several shots that missed the mark in the first quarter, Williams finally broke through 7:19 into the second quarter. His first goal made the score 5-3 in favor of the Bandits, but it appeared the Mammoth had found their confidence. Williams finished the second quarter with two goals and two assists and the Mammoth only trailed the Bandits 9-8 at halftime.
In the third quarter, Buffalo did a good job stopping Williams from scoring and, on the other end, Tehoka Nanticoke gave the Bandits some breathing room as he scored his fourth and fifth goals to gain a 11-8 lead. Williams managed just one assist in the third.
In the final quarter, the Mammoth leveled the score at 12-12 thanks to a Connor Robinson hat trick goal. From there, it was left to Williams to score as the Mammoth kept chasing the Bandits for the lead.
Williams scored two huge equalizers in the fourth, his third and fourth of the game.
Unfortunately for Williams, the Bandits soon realized the goals would be coming from him and put the pressure on him. A missed Williams shot led to the Weiss go-ahead tally and the game.
While it’s easy to look at Williams and see he had a great night, scoring four goals and picking up four assists, it’s harder to judge Brown’s game on the scoresheet as a defender.
For those who haven’t seen him, I would not recommend playing against him unless you’re cruising for a bruising. Brown uses every bit of his 6-foot, 4-inch, 220-pound body to punish anyone trying to score on the Bandits.
Along with his punishing play on defense, Brown has the eye for a quick transition off turnovers. He picked up an assist and could have had a couple more if not for big saves from Mammoth goalie Ward.
The loss will sting for either Williams or Brown, depending on which way the series swings. However, no matter the result, Silver Creek High School has a lot for which to be proud because, no matter what, a former Black Knight will be champion of the NLL at the end of the season.