The Buffalo Bandits’ regular season will come full circle on Saturday, when they finish just as they started: facing off against the Albany FireWolves.
Faceoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. from MVP Arena in Albany. The game can be seen on ESPN+, and fans can also tune in on WGR 550.
The Bandits fell 11-10 to Albany in the first game of the season in Buffalo, but the FireWolves have not been able to sustain their opening night success. They sit in last place in the league with a 3-14 record. Albany’s top contributors this season are Connor Kelly (31+30), Kieran McArdle (15+40), Tanner Thomson (20+31), and Ethan Walker (24+27).
Last week, the Bandits won their second game in a row when they snuffed out the Toronto Rock 11-10 to clinch first place in the East. Buffalo will earn home field throughout the playoffs with a win.
“Clinching the first seed is obviously huge,” Dhane Smith said. “Our main goal this regular season was to make the playoffs, and our second goal was to obviously host playoff games. It wasn’t easy with our injuries, but our next step now is to win those games.”
Smith also added another accolade to his resume in the win against Toronto, earning his 600th career assist.
“I hope to get to 700, so it’s just another thing to knock off the list,” he said. “That being said, I want to win a championship before talking about all of those other accolades. I want to do whatever it takes to get us to that.”
Matt Vinc made 44 saves against Toronto to set the franchise record for goalie wins: a fitting 48 for No. 48. With a start this weekend, Vinc will pass Josh Sanderson for sixth all-time in league history with 269 games played.
— Buffalo Bandits (@NLLBandits) April 23, 2023
Around the league
Week 22 concludes the regular season around the league, with just six total games scheduled.
As the playoffs rear their head, many teams are still fighting for a playoff spot. The winner of the game between Georgia and Halifax will clinch the final spot in the East.
Looking at individual statistics, Smith leads the league in assists (92) and is tied with New York’s Jeff Teat for the lead in total points (126).
Smith is three assists shy of 95 assists, which would break the NLL single-season assist record he set last season. He also needs 12 points to break his own all-time single-season record of 137 set back in 2016.
Bandits captain Steve Priolo ranks fifth in blocked shots (19), and Vinc leads the league in goalie wins (13), goalie minutes (996:04), and saves (702). Josh Byrne is tied for 12th in the NLL with 40 goals.
One more before the postseason
With one game before the playoffs, Smith stressed how important it is to not let up now and have a strong finish.
“Little details are something we’re still focusing on. I think we’ve kind of come together and we’ve gotten a lot healthier down the stretch,” he said. “We’re getting our chemistry and a few other guys back. We just have to keep it going, because I thought we played well against Toronto.”
Playoff tickets are on sale NOW!
Don't miss out on playoff lacrosse in Banditland.
— Buffalo Bandits (@NLLBandits) April 24, 2023
Buffalo will host a playoff game on May 6 at 7 p.m. Tickets are on sale now.