The Buffalo Bandits won their third straight game with a 13-10 victory over their cross-town rivals, the Rochester Knighthawks.
With the win, the Bandits moved into first place in the East Conference, usurping the top spot from Rochester.
With the NLL’s leader in goals, Josh Byrne, out with injury, other Bandits stepped up to fill the void. The top of the Bandits’ scoresheet was marked by reigning MVP Dhane Smith (4+6), Brady McCulley (2+3), and Tehoka Nanticoke (1+3).
Rochester was led by Connor Fields (3+4), Ryan Smith (3+3), and Holden Cattoni (1+3).
Bandits goaltender Matt Vinc stopped 47 shots on 57 attempts, while Rochester netminder Ryan Hartley saved 42 of 55.
Bandits forward Dalton Sulver opened the scoring for the game at the 6:06 mark, notching his fourth of the year. Thomas Hoggarth was the first Knighthawk on the board, scoring a power-play goal after a slashing call on Nick Weiss.
Steve Priolo was penalized with a 10-minute misconduct call after Hoggarth’s goal, leaving Rochester with a man advantage for the end of the first and the majority of the second quarter.
With 18.4 seconds remaining in the first quarter, Ryan Smith gave the Knighthawks the lead with a goal of his own. At the end of one, Rochester led 2-1 and was outshooting Buffalo 14-8.
The Knighthawks would continue to utilize their man advantage going into the second, with Connor Fields and Curtis Knight scoring just 27 seconds apart from one another. Fields would add his second of the game at the 11:05 mark to bolster Rochester’s run to five unanswered goals.
With 5:12 remaining in the first half, Dhane Smith would take the reins of the Bandits’ offense, adding a pair of goals less than two minutes apart from one another.
With 1:19 left in the quarter, Sulver would add his second tally of the game to cut the Bandits’ deficit to one. Buffalo would go into halftime trailing just 5-4 after a 3-0 run to finish the first frame.
The floodgates opened in the third quarter, as the Bandits continued to add to their goal streak. Bandits captain Steve Priolo tied the game at 5 for his second of the year at the 12:50 mark.
Smith spoke on the ebbs and flows of the game, saying, “That’s lacrosse. They’re gonna go on their runs, we’re gonna go on ours. I think the main thing that we need to look at in the mirror is staying out of the penalty box. If we do that, we’ll be fine, and that showed tonight.”
The Bandits scored two more unanswered with tallies from Brandon Robinson, who scored a rebound goal after catching his own shot off the boards, and Bryce Sweeting, who grabbed his first of the year.
We think this was an attempt at a Griddy?
idk… but what would you rate it?🤔 pic.twitter.com/5EFX0FlC9p
— Buffalo Bandits (@NLLBandits) February 5, 2023
Rochester’s Ryan Smith would end the Bandits’ 6-0 run with his second of the game with 8:48 remaining in the third.
Buffalo would not allow Rochester to hang around for long though, as they barraged the Knighthawks with four straight, with contributions from Ian MacKay, Nanticoke, McCulley, and Smith. Smith’s goal would be his third of the game, earning himself a hat trick.
“I thought the defense picked it up in the second half,” coach John Tavares said. “The offense, too, with Josh out. Guys started picking it up, so it’s nice to see our depth.”
The Bandits led 11-6 going into the final frame, leading in shots on goal as well, with 47 to Rochester’s 41.
Fields and Smith narrowed the Bandits lead with goals only 29 seconds apart. Dhane Smith would add his fourth tally, but Knight would respond with 10:24 remaining to cut the lead to three.
McCulley would hammer home the final Bandits goal with 3:02 left to ice the game. Cattoni brought the Knighthawks to 10 goals on the night as he scored with 21 seconds remaining in the game, but it wouldn’t be enough.
McCulley expressed his gratitude towards Banditland as they continue to show their support for their team. “(Scoring in front of Banditland), it’s probably the best feeling in the entire world, to put it simply. We have the best fans in the league, we’re so lucky.”
The Buffalo Bandits will continue to defend their winning streak after their upcoming bye week, when they host the Philadelphia Wings in Week 12.
“Obviously we’re hot and we want to keep it rocking,” McCulley said, “but a little bit of a break for the bodies is good. We got some guys that are banged up, so now we have a bit of a free week to get everything back in order.”
Face off from KeyBank Center is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, February 18th.