By Alex Pagliano - Bandits.com
John Tavares scored 55 seconds into overtime as the Buffalo Bandits defeated the Philadelphia Wings 12-11 in overtime at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Sunday. Tavares, who was named the first star of the game, had seven points on five goals and two assists on the afternoon.
Bandits transition player Jay Thorimbert won the draw to start overtime, but the Wings wound up with the loose ball. The defense held up for Buffalo as Philadelphia turned the ball over on a shot clock violation. Nineteen seconds later, Joe Resetarits found Tavares for the game-winning-goal.
After the game, Tavares was awarded the “212 Hard Hat,” an award handed to him by his fellow teammates for his performance. Tavares succeeds Anthony Cosmo, who earned his second victory of the season after making 43 saves.
Dhane Smith finished with a career-high nine points on three goals and six assists to lead the Bandits. Ryan Benesch added five points on one goal and four assists for Buffalo. Benesch and Thorimbert, who won 15-of-27 draws, tied for the team lead with 10 loose balls.
Buffalo (2-1) opened the scoring at 11:42. Jamie Rooney scored his second goal of the NLL season on the power play to give the Bandits an early 1-0 lead. Former Bandit Tracy Kelusky matched just over a minute later to even the game, 1-1.
Smith scored to move the lead back to 1, but teammates Kyle Buchanan and Kevin Crowley closed out the quarter with goals for Philadelphia (1-2), giving them a 3-2 advantage after one quarter.
The Bandits went on a 5-0 run to end the second quarter. Shawn Williams opened the scoring just 2:43 into the second quarter to knot the game, 3-3. Buchanan would find the back of the net for the Wings just over two minutes later to give them a short-lived one goal lead, 4-3.
Tavares scored two consecutive goals to give the Bandits a 5-4 lead midway through the second quarter. The goals continued to come, as Smith added his second goal 9:22 into the second quarter to give the Bandits a two goal lead, 6-4. Mark Steenhuis would find the back of the net just over a minute later to add to the Bandits lead, 7-4.
Tavares closed out the half with his third goal of the quarter to send the Bandits into the locker room with an 8-4 halftime lead.
Ryan Benesch kept the momentum going for Buffalo to start the third quarter. Benesch’s sixth goal of the season, assisted by Smith and Williams, marked the sixth consecutive Bandits goal. Pat Saunders ended the string of goals for the Wings, cutting the Bandits lead to four goals, 9-5.
Smith would increase the lead back to five goals, as he found the back of the net with an assist from Steenhuis at 5:39. Ryan Ward would score two consecutive goals for Philadelphia to end the third quarter, cutting the Bandits lead to 10-7.
The Wings continued to rally late. John Ranagan opened the scoring in the fourth quarter, cutting the Buffalo lead to two goals, 10-8. Twenty-eight seconds later, Ryan Ward completed his hat trick to cut the margin to just one for the Wings, 10-9.
Tavares would end the two goal run, posting his fourth of the game 11 seconds later to push the lead back to two, 11-9. The Wings refused to concede, as Kelusky scored his second of the game 8:54 into the fourth quarter to cut the lead. Ryan Ward’s fourth goal with 4:01 remaining in regulation sent the game to overtime at 11-11. He then ended the game soon after the faceoff to open the overtime period.
The Bandits travel to Denver on Saturday to take on the Colorado Mammoth at 9 p.m.