By Alex Pagliano - Bandits.com
The Buffalo Bandits opened the season in the loss column, dropping their 2014 season opener to the Philadelphia Wings, 17-13. Jordan Hall recorded seven points on five goals and two assists to lead the Wings to victory.
“We were taught a lesson. We were outworked; we were outplayed; we were out-everything,” Bandits head coach Troy Cordingley said. “We had guys on different pages. You have to be on the same page to win in this league. Quite frankly, we were terrible tonight.”
Philadelphia opened the scoring 2:49 into the contest. Kyle Buchanan tallied on a behind-the-back pass from Tracy Kelusky to give the Wings an early lead. Buffalo would answer five minutes later as new Bandit Ryan Benesch converted an excellent feed from John Tavares to score his first career goal as a Bandit on the power play.
The forward was pleased to get on the scoreboard, but was also cognizant of the scoreboard at the end of the game.
“Individual stats do not mean anything. This is a team game,” Benesch said. “We can make all of the excuses that we want, but we did not stick to our game plan.”
The teams would trade goals midway through the first quarter. Kevin Ross scored for Philadelphia at 8:26, but was matched three minutes later by Buffalo defenseman Glen Bryan. Garrett Thul and Kyle Sweeney would score consecutively to give Philadelphia a 4-2 lead with 1:34 remaining in the opening quarter.
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The Bandits would add a late goal, as Benesch would score his second goal of the quarter with 1:03 remaining to cut the Philadelphia lead to 4-3 at the end of the first quarter.
Kevin Crowley opened the scoring for the Wings in the second quarter on the power play at 4:09. Fourteen seconds later, Bandits transition player Jay Thorimbert went the length of the floor to put Buffalo within one at 5-4.
A series of Buffalo penalties in the middle of the second period allowed the Wings to go on a run. Jordan Hall scored four consecutive goals, including one on a penalty shot, to give the Wings a 9-4 edge.
The Bandits would respond to close the half. A series of Philadelphia penalties gave Buffalo time on the man advantage. At 13:35, Shawn Williams converted with the Bandits up two men. Just over a minute later, Mark Steenhuis scored on the 5-on-4. Kevin Brownell went end-to-end to cut the Wings lead to 9-7 at the half.
Philadelphia ended the two goal run, as Kelusky scored his first goal of the season at 3:31. Almost two minutes later, Dhane Smith would reduce the lead to two goals, but consecutive tallies from Kelusky, Hall and Kevin Ross increased the lead to five goals, making it a 13-8 game. Smith would add his second goal of the quarter to cut the lead to four entering the fourth quarter.
The Wings quashed hope of a comeback early in the fourth quarter. Three consecutive goals from Ross, Kevin Crowley and Kyle Buchanan padded the Wings’ lead to seven. Kevin Brownell and Williams each added a goal to cut the Wings’ lead to five, but another goal by Buchanan pushed the lead back to six with 2:45 remaining.
Nearing the end of the fourth quarter, Steenhuis would score his second of the night at with 2:31 remaining. Smith, the team’s leading goal scorer in 2013, completed his hat trick with 10 seconds remaining in the game.
Anthony Cosmo started and played 43:24 in goal for Buffalo. The veteran made 38 saves on 51 shots before being replaced by Kurtis Wagar. Wagar stopped 13 shots in relief. The Wings recorded 68 shots; a mark that left Cordingley unimpressed.
“Our defense was not making people pay the price and we were not boxing out,” he said. “Our defense was just as bad [as our offense]. We spent an extensive amount of time talking about not being outworked. And we were totally outworked tonight.”
The Bandits do not return to action until Jan. 10, when they host the Toronto Rock at First Niagara Center. After the performance tonight, Cordingley looks forward to the extended week.
“We’ve got lots of work to do,” he said. We need to get guys on the same page, because if not, there’s going to be a few guys watching from the crowd.”