By Chris Ryndak - Bandits.com
If the Buffalo Bandits’ pair of victories last weekend appeared to be two steps forward for the team then Saturday night’s loss to the Calgary Roughnecks served as a major step back.
Calgary dominated the game from the opening face off to the final horn, besting Buffalo by a score of 17-6 at Scotiabank Saddledome. The Roughnecks (8-3) jumped into a tie with Colorado for first place in the West while the Bandits (4-7) have fallen to last place in the East.
The Bandits snapped their franchise-record six-game losing streak last weekend with wins against Toronto and Minnesota. But in Calgary, they quickly slipped back into the bad habits that plagued them during that stretch of losses.
Curtis Dickson got the Roughnecks off to a fast start, scoring three goals in the first 7:22 of play. His first came 0:45 in on Bandits starting goaltender Anthony Cosmo. The Roughnecks opened up a 5-0 lead in the first and Mike Thompson replaced Cosmo with 1:17 to play in the quarter following an uncontested shorthanded goal from Dane Dobbie.
Dickson, Dobbie and Scott Ranger all scored hat tricks for Calgary. Shawn Evans led all players with nine points (2+7).
As they have for most of this season, John Tavares and Luke Wiles highlighted the Bandits’ offensive attack. In fact, they pretty much were the offense on Saturday. They both scored three times, making up all six Bandits goals, and Wiles contributed an additional two assists.
Tavares, at 43 years old, leads the team with 56 points (28+28) while Wiles, in his first season in Banditland, is the team’s top goal scorer with 29. Wiles also has 24 assists.
Cosmo made 11 saves on 16 shots. Thompson turned away 40 of 52 shots and was charged with the loss. In three starts, Cosmo has yet to play a complete game for the Bandits this season.
It could’ve been much worse for the Bandits as Thompson came up big on multiple occasions. Perhaps his most impressive play came on a sequence with about 2:40 left in the first half. Dobbie raced down the floor and Thompson stopped him on a breakaway. Dobbie had two more chances and Thompson denied him on both opportunities causing the net to tip over and play to be stopped.
If there is one real positive the Bandits could take out of Saturday, it would probably be the performance of their power play. The man advantage turned out to be what really kept Buffalo in the game. The Bandits capitalized on four of their seven chances while up a man.
On the flip side, they gave up nine power play opportunities to the Roughnecks that allowed Calgary to pull away. Calgary scored on six of those nine chances.
The Bandits were also manhandled in the faceoff circle. Geoff Snider took all of Calgary’s draws and won 70 percent of them, finishing 19-8. Six different Bandits tried their luck against Snider.
Mike Poulin earned the win in net for Calgary with 27 saves. The shot discrepancy between the two teams only grew larger as the game went on. The Roughnecks out-shot Buffalo 18-3 in the fourth quarter. The final shot total gave Calgary a 68-33 edge.
With the game virtually decided at the 10:22 mark of the fourth quarter – the Roughnecks held a 15-6 lead – things got ugly. Frustration seemed to get the best of the Bandits and off a face off, three different fights broke out. The brawl resulted in 89 combined penalty minutes being doled out, including six game misconducts.
Brandon Francis, Travis Irving and Steve Priolo each received five-minute fighting majors and 10-minute game misconducts for Buffalo. Irving received an additional two-minute instigator penalty.
Calgary’s Ryan McNish and Peter McFetridge were each slapped with fighting majors and game misconducts. Andrew McBride was slapped with a 10-minute misconduct and a minor penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.
The Bandits are back in action on Saturday, March 31 when they host the Toronto Rock (5-6) at 7:30 p.m. at First Niagara Center.