The Buffalo Bandits moved to 3-2 on the season after they defeated the Minnesota Swarm 15-12 at HSBC Arena on Friday.
John Tavares scored two goals and eight points, while both Mark Steenhuis and Chad Culp recorded hat tricks in Buffalo’s second home game of the season. Mike Thompson was an anchor in the Bandits’ net as the veteran netminder made 23 saves in Buffalo’s victory.
Photo Gallery: Bandits 15, Swarm 12
Photo Gallery: Buffalo Bandettes
Audio Clip: Darris Kilgour Post-Game
Audio Clip: Mark Steenhuis Post-Game
Audio Clip: Chris Corbeil Post-Game
Audio Clip: Chad Culp Post-Game
After scoring just five goals in last week’s loss to Toronto, Buffalo was challenged by the coaching staff to step up the offense and exploded for 15 goals against the Swarm.
“I thought the chances we created tonight were a lot better then the chances we had last week,” Bandits Head Coach Darris Kilgour said after the game. “I’m very pleased with the offense. They really listened to us (in practice) and came through in the game.”
Tavares put the Bandits up early when he released a laser shot over the shoulder of Minnesota goaltender Nick Patterson. The Swarm answered back when Aaron Wilson walked in untouched to tie the game at one. Buffalo responded with three straight goals from Culp, Chris Corbeil, and Brenden Thenhaus. Minnesota would then cut the deficit in half with a goal by Ryan Benesch. Buffalo regained the three-goal lead after Corbeil netted his second goal of the game while short-handed.
The game started to get physical late in the first as Bandit tough guy Brandon Francis mixed it up with Minnesota’s heavyweight Rory Smith. Shortly after, James Purves introduced himself to Banditland when he dropped the gloves with Shawn Pollock with under a minute left.
Buffalo continued to roll in the second quarter with two goals in under a minute by Culp. The Swarm started to creep back late in the second with two consecutive goals by Mat Giles and Pollock. However, Roger Vyse would put a stop to the Swarm’s comeback when he netted his sixth goal of the season.
Late in the second quarter, Bandits rookie Travis Irving left a lasting impression with Bandit fans after he got into a scrap with Andrew Suitor. At the end of the first half, Buffalo held an 8-4 lead over Minnesota.
The Swarm opened the third quarter with a goaltender change as Kevin Croswell entered the game in relief of Patterson. The switch seemed to light a fire under the Swarm as Rich Morgan, Benesch, Andrew Watt and Pollock got on the scoreboard in the third. However, Minnesota had a tough time containing the Bandits’ offense as Jon Harasym, Frank Resetarits and Tavares found the back of the net. Steenhuis also made his presence felt with two goals in the third quarter.
It was a back and forth final quarter, but the Bandits never lost their lead. Steenhuis completed his hat trick and Brett Bucktooth added another score for Buffalo, while Benesch, Kevin Ross, Watt, and Tim Campeau scored for the Swarm in the fourth quarter.
“I think when you score just five goals last week your going to start moving,” said Steenhuis. “We all heard it on both ends of the floor. Defense needed to be 10 times better and be on the ball, while the offense needed cut lanes and do something. We were stagnant in Toronto and if it were to happen again we probably would have lost our jobs.”
Benesch was the lone bright spot for the Swarm as he scored three goals and seven points in the loss. Minnesota’s second loss of the season drops its record to 3-2. The Swarm will hope to rebound next week against one of Buffalo’s rivals, the 2-2 Rochester Knighthawks.
Buffalo will try to extend its winning streak when it takes on the 3-2 Philadelphia Wings on the road. It will be the first game of a home-and-home series between the two division rivals. The teams will lock horns on Saturday, February 12 at 7:00 p.m. inside the Wells Fargo Center.