The Buffalo Bandits return home to KeyBank Center for their final homestand of the season, beginning with a contest versus the New York Riptide on Saturday and concluding with a rematch against the Toronto Rock on April 22.
Saturday’s faceoff against New York is slated for 7:30 p.m. on ESPN+ and 1520 AM.
With a victory over the Riptide, the Bandits would clinch a Quarterfinal home playoff game.
Coming back from the bye week, the Bandits will look to get back on track after falling to the Rock by a score of 18-7 on April 1 at FirstOntario Centre. The 11-point loss marked the team’s largest margin of defeat this season.
Goaltenders Matt Vinc and Devlin Shanahan split time in net while Dhane Smith (1+4) led the group with a five-point performance. Josh Byrne (2+2), Chris Cloutier (2+0), and Brad McCulley each had multi-point outings.
With the loss, Buffalo (11-4) fell to second place in the East. Toronto took over first with its 12-4 overall record.
The Riptide (4-11) currently sit in seventh place in the Eastern Conference standings with hopes of upsetting a Bandits team that has dropped two of its last three games.
Vinc believes that the key to success will be finding a rhythm after facing a lot of adversity as a team this season.
“We’ve had a lot of injuries, a lot of different lineups. Obviously, some key guys being out for extended periods of time. I think we’ve just got to gel and find our groove,” Vinc said.
“It’s not about who’s the best team. It’s who’s playing the best lacrosse at the right time. Those are going to be the ones raising the trophy over their heads. We’ve just got to find that chemistry and, hopefully, in these last three games, we’re able to gel and feel that sense of confidence that we had for the majority of last season.”
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of this weekend’s matchup.
Tucker Out Lymphoma Night
For the ninth consecutive season, the Bandits will host Tucker Out Lymphoma Night to help raise money for pediatric cancer care. Click here for more details on the night.
This annual event is held in honor of Tucker Williams, the son of former Bandit and NLL Hall of Famer Shawn Williams, who passed away from Burkitt’s Lymphoma on December 17, 2014. To learn more about Tucker’s story, click here.
Both the Bandits and the Riptide will wear special jerseys and shorts, which fans can bid on here. Buffalo will also have Tucker Out Lymphoma Night locker room nameplates and player worn gear up for auction.
Leading the charge
As the league’s reigning MVP, Smith paces Buffalo with 108 points in 15 games this season. His 79 assists in the campaign are good for first in the NLL while his 108 points trail only New York’s Jeff Teat (115).
Byrne has tallied a team-best 34 goals in his 12 games played, which is three goals shy of his career high.
Since returning from injury on March 10, Cloutier has made his presence known in the lineup, tallying nine goals and six assists over four games.
Captain Steve Priolo, who scored the overtime winner against the San Diego Seals on March 25, sits tied for third in the league with 19 blocked shots.
Vinc continues to lead the way between the pipes with 11 wins and 611 saves, which are second and third in the NLL, respectively.
What to watch for
With three games left in the regular season, multiple Bandits are approaching career milestones.
Ian MacKay is currently two points away from reaching 100 in his career while Priolo is two points shy of his 200th career point.
Kyle Buchanan needs two more loose-ball recoveries to hit 900 in his career. Five loose-ball recoveries would give Priolo a total of 1200.
With six assists, Byrne could reach 200 career assists.