By Chris Ryndak - Bandits.com
Before Friday's game against the Philadelphia Wings, the Buffalo Bandits had won 16 straight regular season games when leading after three quarters. That streak, dating back to Feb. 6, 2010, came to an end Friday night.
In a mostly back-and-forth affair, the Philadelphia Wings finished strong in the fourth quarter to defeat the Bandits, 13-10 at First Niagara Center on Friday. The Wings outscored the Bandits 6-1 in the final frame and finished the game on a 3-0 run.
Buffalo (2-1) entered the fourth quarter with a 9-7 lead but quickly saw it evaporate 3:17 into the fourth quarter when Wings forward Drew Westervelt scored his third of four goals. Mark Steenhuis would put the Bandits ahead a few minutes later, but the Wings would come right back on Dan Dawson's goal to tie the game and start the run to open up their biggest – and final – lead of the night. With 5:56 left, Westervelt added another goal that proved to be the game-winner.
The Wings' power play went 5-for-7 in the game and scored on all four of their opportunities in the first half. The Bandits had early special teams chances of their own with two five-minute power plays in the first half. Buffalo scored just twice on those long advantages and allowed Philadelphia (2-1) to stick around.
“We should've been up by three or four goals in the first half and it might have been a different game, it might not have been a different game,” said Bandits head coach Darris Kilgour. “We'll never know because we didn't capitalize on our opportunities. Everything that happened tonight was on us. It wasn't anything that they did. It was on us.”
Bandits goaltender Mike Thompson made 30 saves on 43 shots in the losing effort. He gave credit to Philadelphia's shooters, but also shouldered some of the blame for a few of the goals he let in.
“They were just shooting well. They kept coming. We just didn't bury our chances is what I saw. Two five minute penalties in the first half. We got a couple goals but we could've done more,” Thompson said. “I felt like I should have had a few goals on me. I don't know if it's the small pads or what, but I felt like I had a couple holes in my arms tonight. They were just sneaking by me.”
Every time the Bandits took the lead, the Wings would come back soon enough to tie the game, especially in the first half. The Bandits held the lead six times in the first half but never by more than one goal. The Wings would take their first lead of the game at 7-6 but Buffalo's Tom Montour would tie the game before halftime.
Forward Luke Wiles kept his hot hand going, scoring the first goal of the second half. Wiles finished the game with two goals and an assist. He has at least two goals in all three of the Bandits' games this season.
The Bandits thought they had their biggest lead of the night late in the third quarter when a shot by forward Chad Culp trickled past Wings goalie Brandon Miller. However, the officials ruled that Culp stepped into the crease before the ball went over the line, disallowing the goal.
“I saw it go in. I knew it trickled in so I knew it was close,” Culp said. “If they call it a goal, maybe they don't overturn it, but since they didn't call it a goal, there was probably a good reason not to challenge ”
It wouldn't take long for the Bandits to get that goal back, however. Kyle Sweeney hit Steenhuis with a pass from all the way down the floor and Steenhuis made no mistake, giving the Bandits a 9-7 lead with 8.6 seconds left in the third quarter.
Culp and Steenhuis each ended up with two goals and two assists.
Two quick goals from Pat Heim and Westervelt tied the game, 9-9, before the Wings' final run.
“I'm not disappointed. We're not going to go undefeated during the season. I'd rather learn the lessons we learned tonight than the last game of the season when it costs us our season,” Kilgour said.
The Bandits will have no time to dwell on the loss as they travel to Minnesota to play the Swarm on Saturday. Face-off from Xcel Energy Center is scheduled for 8 p.m. EST.