The Buffalo Bandits will look to continue their undefeated run Friday night against the Georgia Swam at KeyBank Center. The Bandits are 4-0 and off to their best start to a season since 2009, when Buffalo started 5-0.
Faceoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Tickets are on sale now. The game was originally scheduled for Saturday, so any tickets that were originally purchased for that day can be used for entry at the game on Friday.
Fans can also stream the game on ESPN+ (a subscription is required). Radio coverage on WGR 550 begins at 7 p.m.
Here are three things to know ahead of the game:
1. Way-too-early Goaltender of the Year favorite?
Buffalo goaltender Matt Vinc has already won Goaltender of the Year award seven times during his career, but through three games this year, he is already making a case for his eighth.
Vinc currently leads all NLL goaltenders in wins (3), save percentage (.861) and goals-against average (7.67). He is also second in the league in saves, just seven behind Vancouver’s Alex Buque.
The Bandits have yet to allow more than nine goals to any team yet this season. Calgary scored nine in the first game of the year, and Vinc has been lights out in net since then.
Last week against the Rock, Vinc faced 50 shots, stopped 45, and posted an .882 save percentage, his best of the season.
Vinc last won Goaltender of the Year following the 2018-19 season, when he was also an MVP finalist and was named to the All-League First Team for his seventh time.
2. Smith, Byrne leading by example
During last week’s 12-6 victory over Toronto, Bandits forwards Dhane Smith and Josh Byrne hit some career milestones their multi-point nights.
Smith ended the night with one goal and five assists to put his season total at 19 points and surpassed 700 career points.
Now in his ninth season, Smith is currently third all-time in franchise history in goals (274), assists (428) and points (702):
1. John Tavares – 1,749
2. Mark Steenhuis – 983
3. Dhane Smith – 702
1. John Tavares – 815
2. Mark Steenhuis – 448
3. Dhane Smith – 274
1. John Tavares – 934
2. Mark Steenhuis – 535
3. Dhane Smith – 428
Byrne’s stellar year continued Saturday night as he found the back of the net four times and added four assists. His eight-point game brought his season total to 18 points, and he now has 100 career assists as a member of the Bandits.
3. The opponent
The Swarm are 1-2, but haven’t had issues finding the back of the net this season, averaging 13 goals a game. The Swarm are led by Lyle Thompson who has 22 points on the year, which includes a 10-point game against New York.
Shayne Jackson, the 2020 NLL MVP, is currently third on the team with 13 points (7+6) and has scored in each game this season, including back-to-back three-goal games.
Goaltender Mike Poulin has a 1-2 record with a 12.33 goals-against average and a .750 save percentage.