Heading into Week 12, the Buffalo Bandits find themselves in a three-way tie with Toronto and Rochester for first place in the East.
The Bandits are 7-2 on the year as they prepare for tonight’s matchup against the Philadelphia Wings at KeyBank Center. Faceoff is set for 7:30 p.m. on ESPN+ and 1520 AM. Tickets are on sale now.
Buffalo is coming off a bye week and has won three in a row.
Reigning league MVP Dhane Smith once again leads the league in points, with 72, and has taken the reins of the Bandits offense while Josh Byrne has been out due to an injury. Smith is currently 10 points away from recording 900 in his career.
The other Bandits who occupy the top of the NLL’s stat leaders are Steve Priolo who comes in fourth place in blocked shots with 11, and Matt Vinc who is tied for the lead with seven wins and is second with 380 saves.
Smith described what it’s like to play a team for the second time in the same season. Buffalo defeated the Wings 13-9 on January 27 at Wells Fargo Center.
“It’s never easy playing a team for the second time,” he said. “We’re going to have to stick to our game plan like we try to do every game. We’ll adjust when we need to, and we’ll have to focus on their new acquisitions in Marcus Minichiello, who played for us, and Mitch Jones.”
Jones was the Vancouver Warriors’ leading point scorer before he was dealt to Philadelphia on January 31.
The Bandits have had to overcome a few injuries that have been sustained over the past couple of weeks.
Key offensive weapons like Byrne and Chris Cloutier used the bye week to continue their rehab.
“The week off was good, and it was a good opportunity to reset,” Smith said. “We want to get in a rhythm, but it’s huge for us with the injuries we have, to recover.”
Heading into Saturday’s matchup, Buffalo is 6-1 all-time against the new Wings franchise, and 2-1 at home. Dating back to last season, the Bandits have won three straight games against Philadelphia.
The last time these clubs played each other, Smith’s nine points (2+7) in the game led the Bandits while Tehoka Nanticoke recorded a hat trick. Brad McCulley totaled four points, including the game-winning goal. In net, Vinc made 46 saves on 55 shots.
Battling for Banditland
Saturday’s game will mark the second straight home game for the Bandits. Five of Buffalo’s final nine games will be played at KeyBank Center.
“We’re back in Buffalo which helps,” Smith said. “Both teams are coming off of a bye week, so I expect both teams to come out of the gates hot. As always, it’ll be good to have Banditland with us. “