By Alex Pagliano - Bandits.com
Entering the 2014 season, Bandits defenseman Steve Priolo had four goals in 51 career games. However, 2014 has been different story for the 6-foot-5, 232-pound defenseman.
Priolo recorded a career-high three goals before the end of the first quarter, as the Buffalo Bandits recorded their third consecutive victory, defeating the Colorado Mammoth 16-9 at the Pepsi Center in Denver on Saturday.
Priolo opened his spree shorthanded. He showcased his speed, scoring an end-to-end goal at 5:14.
Less than two minutes later, Priolo looked like a natural on the offensive end of the floor, as he waited from outside the crease before placing a shot past Colorado goaltender Tye Belanger. The defenseman capped his hat trick to end the quarter as he bounced a shot over the shoulder over Belanger, who was pulled after the goal.
Dhane Smith and Andrew Watt each added a goal for (3-1) Buffalo in the opening frame, as well. Drew Westervelt added the lone Colorado goal, as the Bandits led 5-1 after the opening quarter.
Joe Resetarits scored his first career goal as a member of the Buffalo Bandits to open the second quarter. The Hamburg, N.Y. native launched a low shot that beat Colorado goaltender Dillon Ward.
After Adam Jones matched for Colorado (1-5), former Buffalo defenseman Michael McNamara took a five-minute major for high sticking at 2:05. The Bandits recorded seven shots with the advantage, but were unable to find the back of the net.
The momentum of the kill turned into offense for the Mammoth, as Colorado went on a 4-1 run before Dhane Smith found the back of the net from just outside of the crease to end the half. The Bandits led 8-6 at the half.
Smith carried over his momentum into the second half. Smith and Mark Steenhuis executed the give-and-go to perfection for his second consecutive goal.
Smith completed the natural hat trick 2:08 later, beating Ward over the shoulder to expand the Bandits lead. Through four games, Smith, a member of the 2013 All-Rookie team has found his stride, recording a team-high 23 points; more than half of the amount that he recorded last season (44).
The Bandits fed off of Smith’s play, ending the quarter on a 4-1 run with goals from Kevin Brownell, Mark Steenhuis, Ryan Benesch and Watt.
Jones and Ianucci scored for Colorado to start the fourth quarter, but the Bandits answered back. Steenhuis bounced a shot between the legs of the Colorado goaltender. Just under a minute later, Resetarits one-touched a shot past Ward on an excellent feed from teammate Ryan Benesch, who recorded a game-high eight points (1+7).
Anthony Cosmo held the Mammoth scoreless over the last 12:27 to preserve the victory. Cosmo earned his third victory of the season, stopping 32-of-41 shots.
Buffalo returns home Saturday to host the Rochester Knighthawks at 7:30 p.m. at First Niagara Center.