After a 60-minute nail-biter Friday night, the Buffalo Bandits were unable to hand the Rochester Knighthawks their first loss of the year.
The Bandits now sit at 4-2 on the season and remain in second place in the Eastern Conference after a 15-12 loss at Blue Cross Arena.
Many Bandits players had productive nights. Josh Byrne (4+4), Dhane Smith (4+2), Ian MacKay (1+2) and Kyle Buchanan (0+3) all produced multi-point outings. Rochester was led by Ryan Smith (5+4), Connor Fields (3+5), Holden Cattoni (3+4), and Thomas Hoggarth (2+3).
Matt Vinc stopped 45 of 60 shots and Vinc was also recognized during the first intermission to be the first goalie to ever log 14,000 minutes played.
The first to ever do it. Another milestone to add to the record books.
Congratulations, Vno! pic.twitter.com/iDhDwqBIvj
— Buffalo Bandits (@NLLBandits) January 21, 2023
Rochester netminder Rylan Hartley made 43 saves on 55 shots.
The Bandits held an 8-5 lead at halftime, but the Knighthawks scored five each in the third and fourth quarters to complete the comeback. Buffalo was outscored 5-1 in the fourth quarter.
The Bandits got off to a hot start with some clutch saves from Vinc and three early goals from Brad McCulley, MacKay, and Smith. After MacKay’s rebound goal to make it 2-0, Smith would notch his just 26 seconds later.
Rochester’s only response in the first would be a goal from forward Thomas Hoggarth, his 12th of the season. With a Banditland-occupied Blue Cross Arena, the Bandits would go into the second quarter with a 3-1 lead.
Byrne carried the momentum early in the second, tallying his 21st goal of the year. The Knighthawks stormed back with three unanswered in just 1:47 to tie the game, with contributions from Ryan Smith and Curtis Knight, with Smith adding his 10th and 11th of the year.
In his first game since being activated to the roster, Joel Tayler scored his first of the year, followed shortly after by an answer from the former Bandit Connor Fields, tying the game 5-5 with 9:16 left in the half.
The Bandits closed out the second quarter with three unanswered goals from Smith, Brian Robinson and Byrne to go up 8-5. Byrne’s goal marked his 300th-career point.
Rochester opened the second half on a 3-0 run and eventually took a 10-9 lead during a 5-1 run. Byrne and Smith scored for Buffalo to regain the lead and go into the fourth quarter with an 11-10 advantage.
Fields hit the equalizer with 8:58 remaining, setting up a Knighthawks string of goals that would decide the game. Ryan Smith added his fifth goal of the contest with just under five minutes remaining in the game to give the Knighthawks a lead they would not relinquish.
Cattoni then scored twice, including once on the power play and Hoggarth closed out the scoring for Rochester with 2:59 left.
Down four goals, Byrne scored Buffalo’s final goal with 1:47 to play in the fourth quarter on a gritty pass from Tehoka Nanticoke.
The Bandits will have a chance to get back into the win column next week, when they travel to Philadelphia to take on the Wings.
Faceoff on January 27 is slated for 7 p.m. from Wells Fargo Center.