Buffalo hosts Portland tonight at HSBC Arena


The Buffalo Bandits and Portland LumberJax meet tonight in the Edge 2008 Championship Game at HSBC Arena at 7:30 PM ET.
The Buffalo Bandits will host the Portland LumberJax tonight at 7:30 PM ET in the Edge 2008 National Lacrosse League Championship Game at HSBC Arena.

The Bandits, who are the top overall seed in the playoffs, have defeated the New York Titans and Philadelphia Wings on their home turf in East Division playoff games, while the LumberJax, who were seeded eighth overall in the post-season, have been road-warriors, upsetting the Calgary Roughnecks and San Jose Stealth in their respective buildings on their road to the Champion's Cup.

Mark Steenhuis scored seven goals last week in Buffalo's 19-12 thrashing of New York in the East Division Final. His MVP performance included four consecutive goals in the fourth quarter to put comeback hopes out of reach for New York.

"I think we're playing very well right now," said Bandits head coach Darris Kilgour. "There's a lot of anticipation going on. We're ready for a very tough battle."

Ken Montour, who leads the league in save percentage (80.8%) and is second in goals against average (10.23), made 41 saves in the win, but Mike Thompson (11.81 GAA, 76.2% save pct) will get the start in goal for Buffalo. Thompson stopped 46 shots and allowed just 12 goals in Buffalo's first-round playoff win against Philadelphia.

Portland's Dan Dawson and Ryan Powell lead all post-season scorers with 12 and eight goals, respectively. Dawson also has 10 assists for 22 points, seven better than the next points-getter, John Tavares at 15.

"Guys are playing with a lot of confidence," said LumberJax bench boss Derek Keenan. "We're playing well certainly at the right time."

Starting goaltender Matt Disher went down with an MCL strain early in the game, but Veteran goaltender Dallas Eliuk, who has served primarily as a backup in 2008, answered the call with 35 saves for the win.

"There is a chance [Disher might play Saturday]," added Keenan. "We probably won't make that decision until Saturday. He's been rehabbing all week and it's sort of a gametime thing."

The Championship Game will be a rematch of the final weekend of the regular season. The two teams met on April 26th at HSBC Arena, with Portland falling 14-10. 18-year-old Peter Jacobs was the only Portland player to score multiple goals, while John Tavares chipped in four goals and four assists for the Bandits in the victory.

The Bandits, who including the post-season are 9-2 at home, can win their first championship since 1996 with a victory on Saturday, while the LumberJax look to make history and win their franchise's first Champion's Cup.

ESPN2 will air the game on Tuesday, May 20th at 2 PM ET. The game will air LIVE on ESPN360, The Score Television Network, Eurosport2 and online at NLL.com. SIRIUS Satellite Radio will also air the game live on channel 119.

--Tom Soler/NLL.com