Midlothian, VA. – The first round of the Colonial Division playoff’s was like two heavy weight prize fighters doing battle. The third seeded Pittsburgh Bandits (14-8-2) traveled to Virginia to play the second seeded Richmond Robins (19-5-0) at Shooters Sportscomplex on warm Saturday afternoon.
Game one lived up to all of the preliminary billing and all the fireworks associated with the Bandits/Robins rivalry. The Bandits jumped out to a early lead with tremendous backing checking by Kevin Sines, Dave Strock and the rest of the Bandits defense. The results from this hard work was a early 4 to 2 lead at the end of the first period by the Bandits. Rattlers goalie Trey Darnell and the rest of Robins defense was reeling from the all of the pressure applied by Bandits defense during the first period finally settled down in the second period. The Robins scratched and clawed there way back into this game behind two second period goals by Cole Murphy and Shane Spencer.
When the dust cleared and second period ended. Two old rivals were tied at 4 to 4, but unlike a heavy weight prize fight, there is no draw in the AIHL payoff’s. After a brief but well deserved break, the Bandits and the Robins started the third period like both teams would be in this battle for a long time. However, one minute into sudden death Pierce Johnson corralled a bouncing pass from Brain Douglas in front of Bandits goalie Mike Patterson. The shot lifted into the corner of the net and the Robins had capped a stunning comeback with 5 to 4 win.
Game two was a much different game. The Robins riding off the high of game one jumped out to a 5 to 1 lead at the end of the first period. Robins Chip Barnes, Jeff Dudding, Brian Douglas, Shane Spencer and game one hero Pierce Johnson provided all of the offensive punch in the first period. As expected, the heart breaking loss of game one took it’s toll on the Bandits in game two. Making it very difficult for the Bandits to mount much of attack in the second period. The Robins coasted to a 7 to 2 win with Pierce Johnson recording a natural hat trick in game two.
Next up for the Robins is a invitation to the Colonial Division finals on May 1.