The Philadelphia Wings (5-3) beat the Buffalo Bandits (5-4) in a sudden death overtime thriller Friday night at the First Niagara Center. The Bandits were in control for most of the game until a 4-1 run in the fourth quarter, including Jordan Hall’s tying goal with 3.7 seconds left, tied the game at 10 a piece.
“They shot well, and we didn’t,” Bandits head coach Darris Kilgour said. “We outplayed them, should’ve won that game. It got taken away from us in the last two minutes.”
Much like Thursday’s win in Toronto, the Bandits came out firing. Bandits leading-scorer Shawn Williams scored two minutes into the game to give the Bandits an early 1-0 lead. Forward Luke Wiles scored a power play goal a little less than three minutes later to give his team a 2-0 lead.
The Bandits appeared to pull away in the second quarter, going on a 4-1 run to end the first half with a 6-2 lead. Luke Wiles added two power play goals to complete his hat trick during that span. The Bandits had five power play goals in the game, all scored during the first half.
“When you’re in the locker room and you can look at how many times they scored 5-on-5, it gives you a breath of fresh air to know they only scored a few goals 5-on-5,” Philadelphia Wings head coach Johnny Mouradian said.
The Wings were able to swing the tide in their direction with a strong third quarter. They were able to outscore Buffalo 5-3 in the third and goaltender Brandon Miller came up with a number of timely, acrobatic saves to keep the game within two goals for his team.
“We were at 7-2 at halftime. We have to learn to step on their throat when we have a lead,” Bandits captain John Tavares said. “[Miller] made some acrobatic saves. They got two quick goals to start the third, and they’re like, ‘Oh my God, we’re in the game,’ and Miller was a big part of that.”
“Three games in a row, [Miller] is really playing a the level we need him to,” Mouradian said.
The Bandits looked ready to bounce back from a rough third quarter. Dhane Smith was able to force a turnover at center court, and slip a pass to Jon Harasym. Harasym made no mistake, as he placed a shot over Miller’s right shoulder to give the Bandits a 10-7 advantage with 12 minutes left.
The Wings, however, stormed back once again, scoring three answered goals. The biggest, of course, being Jordan Hall’s game tying, power play goal, with just 3.7 seconds left on the clock.
The teams traded chances in the overtime period. Buffalo’s Jay Thorimbert got a chance in front right off the draw, but was denied by Miller. After the Bandits got a stop on defense, transition player Mark Steenhuis got in alone, and shot as he was taken down with no penalty called. The Wings made Miller’s save count this time. After a brief cycle, Drew Westervelt completed a hat trick of his own at the 2:14 mark of overtime, completing the comeback for the Wings.
After going 1-1 for on a back-to-back for the second time the season, the Bandits know there’s no time to hang their heads with the end of the season inching closer with each passing day.
The Bandits fell to a 5-4 record and third place in the East Division with the loss. Philadelphia moves into second and now has the tiebreaker over the Bandits in the standings. The Bandits are now one game back of first, and half of a game back of second.
“That was a tough one tonight. We had a bit of a downer tonight,” Luke Wiles said. “We put up 10, and we’re a 12 or 13 goal team. We have to continue to get better. We’re above .500. There’s no time to hang our heads and pout.”
Buffalo’s next game will be the first game of a home-and-home with the Colorado Mammoth next Saturday. Game time is set for 7:30 PM at the First Niagara Center.