The Buffalo Bandits are proud owners of five straight victories after their win on Friday night, narrowly defeating the Halifax Thunderbirds 10-9 at Scotiabank Centre.
With 10:20 left in the game, Dhane Smith buried a forceful shot that reached the back of the net to put the Bandits ahead by two. Buffalo allowed just one goal in the fourth quarter, and Smith’s tally would end up being the game winner, giving the Bandits the hard-fought victory.
The Bandits’ offense was spearheaded by Smith (3+2), and Ian MacKay (3+2), as well Dylan Robinson, Tehoka Nanticoke, Adam Bomberry, and Nick Weiss, who all totaled 2 points each.
Halifax’s effort was led by Randy Staats (2+3), Ryan Benesch (3+1), and Cody Jamieson (1+2).
Matt Vinc stopped 43 of 52 shots while Halifax netminder Warren Hill racked up 41 saves on 51 shots.
How it happened
MacKay wasted no time in making himself known to the Thunderbirds. MacKay took complete control of the game early, netting a hat trick in the first quarter.
At the 11:59 mark, MacKay tallied his first, opening the scoring in the game. Just around three minutes later, MacKay added another, but it was waved off. MacKay didn’t let that falter him, as he quickly added two more at the 7:19 and 5:59 marks of the game, stacking his early hat trick.
MacKay’s dominant first quarter gave the Bandits the 3-0 advantage at the end of one.
Halifax managed to steadily chip away at the Bandits lead with contributions from Austin Shanks and Benesch, cutting the deficit to just one. Benesch would add the equalizer on the powerplay with 4:28 left in the first half, knotting things at 3.
At the 2:03 mark, Chris Boushy would give the Thunderbirds their first lead of the game, ripping a shot home past Vinc. Nick Weiss would answer Boushy’s goal to tie the game at 4 with just 47.3 seconds remaining in the half.
As the final seconds ticked off the clock, Tyson Bell returned the narrow edge to Halifax, burying a snipe to take the lead heading into the half.
At the 10:50 mark of the second half, Weiss added his second of the game, finishing on the breakaway after making a steal. Only 25 seconds later, Robinson scored his first of the game after being left alone in front of the net.
A few minutes later, Thunderbirds veteran Ryan Benesch scored his 500th career goal to tie the game at 6. With 7:16 left in the third, Staats returned the lead to the Thunderbirds with his second goal of the game. Cody Jamieson would pad Halifax’s lead to make it 8-6, placing the pressure on Buffalo as the final quarter approached.
After a quiet first half, Dhane Smith wasted no time in introducing himself to the Thunderbirds, piling on a pair of goals, the second one with just 21.8 seconds left in the quarter. After Smith’s late tally, the Bandits and Thunderbirds went into the final frame tied at 8.
Nanticoke’s first on the board was one for the highlight-reel, scoring on a behind the back shot. With 10:20 remaining, Smith garnered a hat trick, giving an impassioned celebration after.
Staats would give the Thunderbirds life with his goal with 5:25 left in the matchup, but it ultimately wouldn’t be enough as the Bandits checked off their fifth straight, winning 10-9.
After the Bandits’ victory over the Philadelphia Wings two weeks ago, he called his club a “second-half team.” That attribution rang true yet again, and the Bandits will now look ahead to next week Friday, when they host Halifax in a rematch to close out the home-and-home set.
The game is scheduled for March 10 at KeyBank Center. Faceoff will commence at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are on sale now.