By Chris Ryndak – Bandits.com
There wasn't much that went the Buffalo Bandits' way Saturday night. Flying into Minnesota after a loss at home to the Philadelphia Wings on Friday, the Bandits dropped a 19-11 decision to the Swarm. It was Buffalo's first-ever loss in Minnesota.
Angus Goodleaf made his first start of the season in goal for Buffalo (2-2) and allowed three goals on the first seven shots he faced. When Minnesota took a 7-2 lead on their fourth straight goal 5:03 into the second quarter, Goodleaf was pulled in favor of Friday's starter, Mike Thompson. The switch didn't do much to swing the momentum the other way, however, as Minnesota (1-1) scored three more goals before the half ended.
Goodleaf would be back in net to start the third quarter but not necessarily because of Thompson's play in relief. As the horn ended the second quarter, at least three fights broke out in a benches-clearing brawl between the two teams.
For the Bandits, defensemen Billy Dee Smith and Scott Priolo, transition players Mark Steenhuis and Jon Harasym and forward Brandon Francis received game misconducts and were ejected from the game. Thompson received a five-minute roughing major and had to start the second half in the penalty box. Swarm captain Andrew Suitor, transition players Richard Morgan and Greg Downing and defensemen Jeff Gilbert and Mitch Belisle picked up game misconducts and were thrown out as well.
Suitor left with three goals, the first of which came on a full-court shot into an empty Buffalo net with less than a second to play in the first quarter. Suitor was one of four Minnesota players with a hat trick in the game. Ryan Benesch, Kevin Ross and rookie Corbyn Tao also scored three goals apiece.
Benesch had five assists to go with those three goals, but his eight points was eclipsed only by Callum Crowley's nine (2+7).
Bandits forward Chad Culp led the team with three goals and three assists. Forward Tracey Kelusky had six points as well (2+4) and Mat Giles, a healthy scratch against the Wings, contributed five assists and collected a team-high 12 loose balls. John Tavares scored twice and had two assists and Luke Wiles put in another two goals to go along with an assist and a team-high 10 shots. Roger Vyse recorded four points as well (2+2).
The Swarm power play was potent all night long, going 9-for-13, including five power play goals in the first half. They also scored three short-handed goals, one in the first half and two on the same kill in the third quarter. The Bandits racked up 83 penalty minutes in the game to the Swarm's 66.
Buffalo trailed 10-5 going into the half, but it was the third quarter that really put the game out of reach. The Swarm went on a 7-0 run, scoring three power play goals and the two short-handed goals. Thompson would return to the net after his penalty expired with the Bandits down, 12-5.
Goodleaf's time on the bench would be short-lived, however, as he came back in to replace Thompson after the Swarm's second short-handed goal made it 16-5. Goodleaf would stay in goal for the remainder of the game. The Swarm entered the fourth quarter with a 17-5 lead.
Thompson made 10 saves on 17 shots. Goodleaf stopped 18 of the 30 shots he faced.
On the other end of the floor, rookie goaltender Tyler Carlson started his first NLL game. He turned aside 39 of 50 Bandits' shots to earn his first career victory.
The Bandits would show some life early the fourth quarter, but it was too little, too late at that point. Four goals in the first 4:32 of the quarter by Tavares, Wiles, Culp and Vyse cut the Swarm lead to 17-9. Minnesota right would come back with two more goals of their own before Vyse and Culp closed out the scoring in the final five minutes.
Buffalo entered the weekend 2-0 and atop the Eastern Division but the pair of losses has put them a half-game behind Philadelphia and tied with Toronto for second place.
The Bandits' next game is on Saturday, Feb. 4 against the Washington Stealth at First Niagara Center. Face-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.