UPDATE (1/28/22): The New York Riptide have announced that the game scheduled for this Saturday, January 29, at 7:30 p.m. against the Buffalo Bandits will be rescheduled for Sunday, January 30 at 1 p.m. at Nassau Coliseum due to the incoming inclement weather in the Northeast.
The unbeaten Buffalo Bandits will be back on the field after 15 days between games this Saturday, against the New York Riptide.
Buffalo (4-0) saw its January 25 road game against the Halifax Thunderbirds postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions so the club will return to action this week at Nassau Coliseum.
The Bandits and Riptide were supposed to play on April 18, 2020 during the Riptide’s inaugural campaign, but the year was cut short because of the pandemic.
The Bandits are 1-0 on the road this season following a 12-8 win over the Rochester Knighthawks on December 11. Over that span of 50 days, Buffalo has played just two games.
New York posts a 1-4 record, picking up their first win of the season in a 13-12 victory against the Philadelphia Wings on Sunday.
Faceoff against the Riptide on Saturday is set for 7:30 p.m. on ESPN+ (a subscription is required) and The Bet 1520 AM.
Here is what you need to know before the game:
1. Don’t Take The Riptide Lightly
Bandits coach John Tavares has stressed to his team that the Riptide are a much better team than their record indicates.
“I think that New York is a really talented group that has played down to the wire in every game,” Tavares said. “We have to always remind ourselves to take no team in this league lightly because we can get their absolute best on any night.”
Even though New York is tied with Panther City and Saskatchewan for the worst record in the NLL, they have lost two games 13-12, and their largest defeat was by four against the Georgia Swarm on December 12.
The Riptide have scored 59 goals in five games. Their average of 11.8 goals per game is third-best in the NLL among teams that have played at least five games.
2. Limiting Kearnan, Crawford & McArdle
New York forward Connor Kearnan’s team-high 16 goals are second in the NLL, only trailing Dane Dobbie of the San Diego Seals with 18.
Fellow forward Callum Crawford is top five in the league in points (28) and assists (19).
Kieran McArdle is tied with Crawford for the team lead in assists (19).
“It’s no debate that their offense can hang around with the top units in the league,” Tavares said. “We’ve had many moving parts in our defensive unit, but regardless of who has played, I’ve been really happy in how they have shut down the opposition’s playmakers.”
That was on full display in the Bandits last game against the Swarm as Lyle Thompson scored two goals in their first quarter but was unable to find the back of the net for the remainder of the game.
3. Who’s In, Who’s Out
Late Monday afternoon, Tavares was thrilled to say the team would be back to 100 percent for the weekend, but the following morning, defenseman Matt Spanger was placed on the COVID protocol list.
“This has been by far the hardest year to coach due to the stoppages and just the uncertainty, Tavares said. “You can have a game plan heading into a game, and a positive test can alter it less than 24 hours before a game.”
Luckily for Buffalo, Justin Martin has been placed on the active roster after missing two games, and the team is expected to welcome back Frank Brown for the first time this season.