Talk about a game of runs.
The Buffalo Bandits only scored in the second and fourth quarters, but that’s all that was needed in a 13-8 win over the Albany FireWolves on Friday at KeyBank Center.
Here’s a look at the scoring breakdown by quarter:
First Quarter: Albany 1-0
Second Quarter: Buffalo 6-0
Third Quarter: Albany 7-0
Fourth Quarter: Buffalo 7-0
Chris Cloutier finished with four goals and an assist to lead the Bandits in points. Rookie Tehoka Nanticoke had a four-point night (3+1). Dhane Smith and Connor Fields each scored twice, and Chase Fraser and Steve Priolo also tallied.
Matt Vinc made 54 saves to help Buffalo improve to 7-1 in 2021-22.
“I was just shooting my shots, not really thinking too much about them. We were just going,” Cloutier said on the ESPN+ broadcast after the game. “You just have those nights – sometimes it’s me, sometimes it can be anyone else on the offense.”
Joe Resetarits and Ryan Benesch each recorded five points for Albany with two goals and three assists apiece. Andrew Kew had four points (2+2), and the FireWolves also received goals from Jacob Ruest and Mike Byrne.
Doug Jamieson stopped 43 Bandits shots.
Albany outshot Buffalo 13-12 in the first quarter, but they held just a 1-0 lead after 15 minutes.
The Bandits found their groove in the second quarter, exploding for six goals. Nanticoke, Cloutier and Fields each scored two to put the Bandits ahead 6-1 going into halftime. Vinc stopped all 12 shots he faced in the second quarter.
Albany got back on the board to open the second-half scoring with a pair of goals in the first 4:25 of the third quarter and Buffalo eventually saw that five-goal lead evaporate.
Tempers flared with 7:00 left, leading to a Bandits power play, but it only accelerated the FireWolves’ comeback. On a shorthanded scoring attempt (and on a delayed penalty), Nick Chaykowsky crashed into Vinc, who stayed down on the turf with an apparent injury as players on both teams paired up for a line brawl.
Albany ended up with a 4-on-3 power play after all the penalties were sorted out and Vinc remained in the game.
The FireWolves extended their run to 4-0 on that power play with a goal by Resetarits to make it 6-5.
Twelve seconds later, Albany tied the game and Buffalo took another penalty on the play. Benesch gave Albany the lead back for their sixth-straight goal with 3:58 left in the third quarter, and they pushed it to seven with another goal.
Following that run, Cloutier said the Bandits tried to stay in the moment, focus on what they have control over and keep their trust in their fellow teammates.
“We know that we’re going to claw back and fight back every time,” he told ESPN+.
And they had a big fourth quarter with seven unanswered goals to recapture the lead for good.
🗣️ MOVE THE BALL
Smith – Byrne – Smith 🚨 pic.twitter.com/IcdCahkN9b
— NLL (@NLL) February 19, 2022
Buffalo scored its first goal in 18:50 of game play when Smith finished a great passing play between him and Josh Byrne at the 2:11 mark of the fourth quarter.
The Bandits tied the game 40 seconds later and Nanticoke capped off his hat trick to give Buffalo the lead back 3:56 in.
Cloutier scored his third of the game with 7:25 remaining to give Buffalo a two-goal lead and added his fourth with a hard shot with 3:52 to go.
Buffalo added two more in quick order to make it a 7-0 fourth quarter in their favor.
Cloutier had himself a NIGHT, scoring 4 goals and recording 1 assist as the Bandits defeat the FireWolves 13-8 pic.twitter.com/r5we0k53pB
— NLL (@NLL) February 19, 2022
The Bandits are in Rochester next weekend for a game against the Knighthawks. Faceoff on Saturday, February 26 is set for 8 p.m. Even though Buffalo leads the NLL with their 7-1 record, the team is literally taking a mental approach of “one week at a time.”
“We’re 0-0 the whole season until the playoffs,” Cloutier said. “So next game up.”