The Buffalo Bandits will take on the New York Riptide on Tucker Out Lymphoma Night inside KeyBank Center on Friday.
Faceoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available here.
The Bandits boast a winning record for the first time this season as they come home to Banditland at 3-2 after defeating the Rochester Knighthawks 15-13 last Saturday in Rochester. Buffalo used a five-goal run in the fourth quarter to come out on top and Matt Vinc earned his 150th career win, becoming the first goaltender in NLL history to ever to reach that number.
New York enters the contest with a 1-4 record in 2023-24, but Buffalo knows it has to be ready against a Riptide team that has taken the Bandits to overtime twice in the past two seasons while splitting two matchups that ended in regulation.
“This is a team that’s always played us well,” alternate captain Dhane Smith said. “Their offense is unbelievable, and I feel like they’ve done a great job of getting some defensive pieces this last year. Yes, they’ve been struggling, but any night can be their night.”
Smith recorded 23 points (7+16) in two games against the Riptide last season, recording eight assists in each of those contests. He currently leads all NLL players with 30 assists in the 2023-24 campaign and wants to continue to do his part in helping the team succeed.
“I know we’ve been playing pretty well, and it’s been a rollercoaster this year where we play well, then we struggle, then we play well. So, we want to keep the momentum going,” Smith said. “It was a character win against Rochester, and we want to keep the momentum going.”
Here’s everything you need to know before Friday’s game.
TUCKER OUT LYMPHOMA NIGHT
Friday will be the 10th rendition of Tucker Out Lymphoma Night at KeyBank Center. The night honors the passing of Tucker Williams, the son of former Bandit Shawn Williams, who lost a courageous battle with Burkitt lymphoma in 2014.
Smith, who was teammates with Shawn in 2013 and 2014, said the night is one of the most important games for him all season.
“It is important to me and it’s one of those games that you mark on your calendar,” Smith said. “It’s been going on for a very long time now and it’s an easy game to get up for. … The lacrosse community has come so close together because of it and it’s a really special night that Scott Loffler’s done a great job of putting on.”
Tucker Out Lymphoma Night has been played across the league since 2014. For more information on the night, click here.
Buffalo is 3-1 in the all-time series against New York and 1-1 at home. Following the Bandits’ win in Rochester, coach John Tavares shared his thoughts on the matchup.
“New York’s done very well against us – especially in our building, so we have our work cut out for us,” Tavares said. “Their offense seems to click very well, and they like to go behind the net quite a bit with different players. They just get up for us and they’re very successful against us. So, by any means, it’s a trap game. I try not to focus on the records of teams. In this league, anybody can beat anybody. “
New York’s roster features five former Bandits: Kevin Brownell, Jay Thorimbert, Mitch Wilde, Brent Noseworthy, and Matthew Bennett.
Brownell wore the orange and black for nine seasons before he left during free agency in 2022 while Thorimbert played six seasons with the Bandits, beginning with the 2010-2011 campaign. Thorimbert holds the Bandits’ franchise record for most faceoffs won with 1,305.
Bennett spent five seasons in Banditland while Wilde and Noseworthy played four and two seasons for the Bandits, respectively.
Four Bandits are at or are knocking on career and franchise milestones.
Forward Chris Cloutier, who has averaged 3.49 points per game since 2019, only needs one point to earn 200 in his career.
Vinc is in milestone-mania as he needs eight more saves to total 10,000 in his NLL career, which is a number no goalie has ever reached in league history. Once he takes the floor against New York, it will be his 275th career game, moving him into fourth all-time in regular-season games played.
As for franchise milestones, the dynamic duo of Smith and Josh Byrne is ready to take another step up the ladder. Last week, Byrne tied Rich Kilgour for the fourth most assists in Bandits history with 223. As for Smith, he tied Mark Steenhuis for the second most points by a Bandits player with 983. Both Smith and Byrne have averaged 6.6 points per game this season and are poised to pass both Bandits legends against the Riptide.