12/28/2018 11:25:00 PM / Nick Konotopskyj
Last week, it was the second quarter where Toronto Rock made a huge run and never looked back against the Buffalo Bandits. This time around, the second quarter belonged to the Bandits, outscoring the Vancouver Warriors 8-1 in that frame, and propelling them to a 16-10 victory.
“Everybody is contributing and everyone is a threat,” head coach John Tavares said. “When you become predictable then it’s easy to defend. When you don’t know which one out of the five guys is going to be a threat then that’s a good offense and I thought we had that for most of the game.”
The win moves Buffalo to 2-1 on the season to the midway points of a four-game homestand. Shawn Evans led the way with 11 points (4+7) while Josh Byrne had 10 points (3+7). Without Dhane Smith and Corey Small in the lineup, the bulk of the offense ran through Evans and Byrne and they delivered.
“We’re just trying to get used to playing with each other,” Byrne said in reference to playing with Evans. “We had a little bit of time last year, but this is the first time we had a full training camp to get back with each other and learn each other’s tendencies.”
Bandits starting goalie Matt Vinc earned his 100th career win, stopping 38 out of 48 shots.
“I just wanted to get my first win here in Buffalo and I’m just fortunate that our offense came out with a hot start and we did a good job maintaining the lead,” he said. “Last week, we had the same start, but we let them get on some runs. I think we did a good job of limiting them tonight.”
Zach Herreweyers was called up from the practice squad and made his presence felt right away. Herreweyers scored two of the first three Bandits goals to give Buffalo a 3-1 lead. Matthew Bennett provided the other Buffalo goal in the quarter.
The Bandits led for most of the opening quarter until Vancouver’s Joel McCready tied the game 3-3 with 3:39 left. However, Ian MacKay quickly regained the lead for the Bandits with a beautiful behind the back goal from right in front of the net. It was MacKay’s first goal in the NLL and Buffalo entered the second quarter with a 4-3 lead.
The story from that opening quarter was Buffalo’s ability to capitalize its opportunities. The Bandits only generated eight shots in the first, but they were able to convert half of those shot attempts into goals. Meanwhile, Vancouver only put away three of 15 shots as Vinc came up with some great saves for the Bandits. Suddenly, when the shots started coming for Buffalo in the second quarter, they continued to capitalize on those chances and that’s when they were able to put the game out of reach.
Byrne and Thomas Hoggarth opened the scoring in the second quarter to give the Bandits a 6-3 lead. After the Warriors cut into the Bandits lead, Shawn Evans scored to give Buffalo a 7-4 lead. Evans then set up Byrne for his second goal of the game to extend the lead to 8-4.
Buffalo added four more goals before the end of the half to go up 12-4 at the break. Byrne had a hat trick in the second quarter alone while Evans either scored or assisted on seven of the eight goals in the quarter.
Vancouver started the second half off with a five-minute boarding penalty, but the Bandits were unable to score. They did, however, score shortly after the power play ended thanks to a goal from Ian MacKay. A pair of Mitch Jones goals cut the Buffalo lead to 13-6, but the game never got close. Evans added his third goal of the game to make the score 14-6 after three quarters.
The Warriors got as close as 15-9 midway through the fourth quarter, but Evans capitalized on yet another goal and that deflated any small momentum that Vancouver could muster up. The Bandits are now 17-7 all-time against Vancouver and 8-4 at KeyBank Center.
“Today we limited a pretty good offensive team,” Vinc said. “They have some great scorers and we felt pretty comfortable. With the exception of 6-on-5, I thought we did a good job of holding them on 5-on-5 chances.”
The Bandits are back in action next Saturday night for the third of four consecutive home games when they face the Rochester Knighthawks. Faceoff from KeyBank Center is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Tickets are on sale now.