BUFFALO, N.Y. (From Bandits.com) - The Rochester Knighthawks (8-8) have earned the opportunity to defend their title, clinching a playoff berth in their final regular season game with a 10-9 road victory over the Buffalo Bandits (6-10), eliminating them from postseason contention, before a record 19,070 fans at a sold-out First Niagara Center on Saturday night.
With Rochester leading by two goals late, Mark Steenhuis brought Buffalo to within one with just 14.1 seconds to play. After a Bandits faceoff win and timeout, the Knighthawks defense held Buffalo without a shot on their final possession to punch their ticket to the postseason.
Craig Point led Rochester with four goals while Cody Jamieson led the team with six points (1+5).
Buffalo was led by Aaron Wilson's six points (2+4), while Shawn Williams and Dhane Smith each had four points (2+2).
With a playoff berth on the line for both teams, the game was more or less "do or die."
Buffalo opened the game with two goals in the first 3:05, soon extending their lead to 4-1 midway through the quarter. But Rochester came back strong with three goals in a 2:04 span to close the first quarter tied at four.
Rochester continued its strong play, controlling most of the second quarter and extending its run to six goals, taking a 7-4 lead late in the second quarter. Buffalo finally stopped the run with 1:44 to play in the half, as Buffalo's excellent ball movement on the power play culminated in an Aaron Wilson tally.
Wilson factored on all five of Buffalo's first-half goals, taking five points (2+3) into halftime as Rochester led 7-5.
The teams traded goals in the third quarter, as Rochester took a 9-7 lead into the final frame with the playoffs on the line.
After trading goals again, Buffalo was down two goals late when they got a power play opportunity with just over four minutes to play. Failing to convert on that key opportunity proved fatal for this Bandits team.
Steenhuis' late goal gave the home fans hope, but in the end, Brad Self picked off a Buffalo pass and ran out the clock.
Rochester will host a first-round playoff game next weekend as the second seed in the East Division.