Coming off their first loss of the season against the Toronto Rock, the Buffalo Bandits look to get back to their winning ways as they host the Albany Firewolves on Friday at KeyBank Center.
First-year Bandit Kyle Buchanan explained the team’s preparation as, “understanding that this league is very good and we can’t play half a game and expect to win. We need to keep our confidence and focus that allowed us to get to 6-0.”
Albany relocated from New England, where they finished 8-3 in 2020.
The FireWolves are currently tied for fourth place in the East with the Philadelphia Wings (5-5). They’re 1-3 on the road, having dropped their last two matchups against the Georgia Swarm and the Rochester Knighthawks.
Buffalo is one of two teams with undefeated records at home (4-0). Inside KeyBank Center, the Bandits have the highest goal differential in the league at plus-18.
Faceoff is at 7:30 p.m. on Friday. Tickets are on sale now.
Here is everything you need to know:
1. Albany Pro Lacrosse History Lesson
The FireWolves are the second professional lacrosse team to call Albany home.
On May 21, 1999, New York’s capital was awarded an NLL expansion franchise, which would be named the Albany Attack following a fan vote.
In Albany’s inaugural season, former Bandit player and now coach John Tavares collected his then-record 86th point of the year in a game against the Attack. Tavares won his second of three MVP trophies that season.
The Attack broke out in their third year of existence, finishing first in the NLL with a 14-2 record and making the playoffs for the first time. They lost to the Toronto Rock by a goal in the NLL Finals.
The team was sold in 2003 with plans to relocate the team to San Jose, where they operated for six seasons before eventually settling in Vancouver in 2014 after a stint in the state of Washington.
2. Bandits Bouncing Back
Since 2011, Buffalo has been a team that is able to make the necessary adjustments to get back in the win column following their first loss of the season. During that span, the Bandits hold an NLL-best 7-3 record.
Even though Buchanan hasn’t been a part of those previous Bandits teams, he acknowledges how the first seven games were an adjustment for everyone.
“I think we are just starting to hit our stride,” he said. “It took us a little time to understand each guy’s game, and now, when our offense is working and vibing, it’s something special to be a part of.
“Defensively, the lineup has been changing week-to-week so I think we are now able to get a good picture as to what our identity is and needs to continue to win games.”
3. Bandits/FireWolves connections
The FireWolves are led by veteran Joe Resetarits who is one of two players in the NLL to lead their team in goals (20), assists (27), and points (47).
The Hamburg, N.Y. native played collegiately at the University of Albany and played 27 games for the Bandits during the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
With Rochester in 2018, he became first American-born player in NLL history to record 100 points in a season. This is his third year with the New England/Albany franchise.
Buchanan is one of two players on the Bandits roster that ever played for the now-debunked Black Wolves (Matt Spangler is the other). Buchanan suited up for New England over four seasons, playing 71 games racking up 240 points (104+136) before joining the expansion San Diego Seals in 2019.
On Friday night, Buchanan will be battling against seven former teammates.
“I missed my only game against [New England] due to injury in 2019 with San Diego, so I’m really excited about this one,” Buchanan said.
“They have some great players right through their lineup, and I made some great relationships in my time with the organization. It’s always good playing against familiar faces and often brings another level of competition to the game.”