By Chris Ryndak - Bandits.com
The Buffalo Bandits fell into a deep hole in the first half and couldn’t climb their way out. In a rare afternoon game against the Rochester Knighthawks, the Bandits were out-scored 7-0 in the second quarter en route to a 13-10 loss at Blue Cross Arena.
Forward Luke Wiles scored a team-high six points with a goal and five assists while John Tavares added two goals and two assists. Buffalo (2-6) put 58 shots on Knighthawks starting goaltender Matt Vinc. Forward Tracey Kelusky led the team with 13 shots and Kevin Buchanan was right behind him with 12 shots of his own.
Wiles and Tavares are the only Bandits to have scored in every game this season.
The Bandits’ losing streak has now reached six games while the Knighthawks have won two in a row and three of their last four. The Bandits have not lost three straight road games since that start of the 2010 season.
Rochester (5-5) got off to a fast start, scoring their first goal of the game 45 seconds in on their first shot on Bandits goaltender Mike Thompson. Cody Jamieson, the goal scorer, finished his day with three goals, three assists and eight shots. He was one of the Knighthawks to record a hat trick. Cory Vitarelli (3+0) and Johnny Powless (3+1) were the others.
Mike Accursi registered six assists in the game, four of them coming in the Knighthawks’ seven-goal second quarter. Accursi eclipsed the 400-career assist mark with the outing.
Going into the second quarter, the Bandits and Knighthawks were tied, 3-3, and it wouldn’t be long before Rochester pulled away for good. Craig Point scored a diving goal 18 seconds into the second and Powless put in his second of the game at the 1:27 mark. Following a goal from Jamieson 4:03 into the quarter to give the Knighthawks a 6-3 lead, Thompson was pulled in favor Anthony Cosmo.
The change didn’t provide the spark the Bandits coaching staff may have hoped for. Just under a minute after the switch, transition player Brad Self ran in on a shorthanded breakaway, beat Cosmo and put Rochester up by four goals.
Thompson made six saves on 12 shots while Cosmo stopped 21 of 28. As Buffalo reaches the midway point of its season, the team has given up 13.13 goals per game and is on pace to allow 210 goals, the most goals against since it allowed 218 since 2001.
The Bandits had two goals waved off following video replay in that second quarter. Jimmy Purves’ goal was ruled no goal on the field and upheld while a goal from Kelusky was over-tuned following a second look. The Bandits out-shot the Knighthawks 26-20 in the first half but went into the locker room trailing 10-7.
Some momentum seemed to shift in the Bandits’ favor late in the third quarter. Transition player Mark Steenhuis scored wit 29.8 seconds to play in the quarter to bring the Bandits to within seven. He then put in his second of the game 26 seconds into the fourth to open the Bandits’ best quarter in terms of offensive output.
At the 6:21 mark of the fourth, Buchanan put in his second of the game shorthanded. Buchanan’s two goals in the game were his first tallies since the season opener against Toronto.
With 3:48 to play in the game, Kelusky made it 13-8 and about a minute later, the Bandits would sustain their best pressure of the game after Jamieson received a five-minute major for spearing. Wiles and Roger Vyse each scored on that power play and the Bandits trailed by three goals with 58 seconds to play. They would run out of time before they would be able to further chip away at that lead.
The Bandits are back in action next weekend with a pair of games. They take on the Rock in Toronto on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Air Canada Centre and then host the Minnesota Swarm on St. Patrick’s Day at 7:30 p.m. at First Niagara Center.