The Buffalo Bandits (6-3) climbed another notch in the standings after they held on to defeat the Boston Blazers 9-8 at the TD Garden on Sunday night.
Buffalo controlled the scoreboard throughout the game until the fourth quarter when Dan Dawson broke out for three goals while assisting on another to help Boston tie the game at eight. However, Buffalo defenseman Clay Hill’s goal with four minutes remaining was the difference in the game that moved Buffalo up to second place in the East division. Goaltender Mike Thompson was tremendous between the pipes as he turned away 27 of Boston’s 35 shots, including two late breakaway attempts with under a minute left in the game to help preserve the win.
John Tavares saw his name on the score sheet four times as the NLL’s all-time leading scorer netted three goals and added an assist while Mark Steenhuis scored twice in the victory. In addition to Hill, Buffalo also got goals from Brett Bucktooth and Tom Montour.
Boston got off to a quick start when Dawson scored just 26 seconds into the game to give the Blazers a 1-0 lead. Bucktooth was the first Bandit to score as he evened it up four minutes later. Boston regained the lead when Ryan Dilks put one in off of a breakaway. However, the Bandits came roaring back with two straight goals by Tavares and Steenhuis to give Buffalo a 3-2 lead. Brandon Francis almost gave Buffalo a two-goal lead, but the play was ruled no goal after the video replay revealed that the ball never crossed the goal line. Buffalo ended the first quarter leading by one.
The Blazers were the first to strike in the second when Dawson tied it up midway through the quarter. Buffalo regained the lead with three straight goals from Tavares, Montour and Steenhuis. Buffalo’s last two goals were on the fluky side as Montour scored off of a long shot that was meant to be a pass to Tracey Kelusky while Steenhuis scored as a result of Boston goalie Anthony Cosmo mishandling the ball. The Bandits went into halftime with a 6-3 lead.
Travis Irving opened the scoring in the third quarter when the Bandits rookie scooped up a loose ball and put it into the back of the net for his first career goal. Boston responded with a goal from Sean Morris. Buffalo would then widen the gap late in the quarter when Tavares netted his third goal of the game as time expired.
The Blazers came to life in the fourth quarter and rallied back with four straight goals. Dawson carried his team and scored three goals while Nick Cotter added another as Boston tied the game at eight goals apiece. Buffalo was able to get back in front when Hill joined the rush and fired it home to put Buffalo up 9-8. Thompson kept his team ahead late when he stuffed both Dawson and Jon Durno on separate breakaways to keep Buffalo in the lead with less than two minutes to play. The Bandits hung on to complete the weekend sweep as the team also defeated the rival Rochester Knighthawks on Saturday night.
With the win, Buffalo (6-3) now takes control of second place in the East Division, trailing Toronto (9-2) by two games for the division lead. The loss drops Boston to a 6-4 record, which is good for third place in the division.
The Bandits and Blazers will get back at it again on Saturday, March 12 when the same two teams face off at HSBC Arena for a 7:30 p.m. tilt.