Josh Byrne put together another sensational performance, recording a game-high seven points Friday night to help the Buffalo Bandits remain undefeated.
Byrne posted two goals and five assists in the Bandits’ 12-10 victory over the Georgia Swarm at KeyBank Center. Following a seven-point game last weekend, he now leads the team in goals (10) and points (25).
The Bandits are now 4-0 on the season and 3-0 at home.
“The game wasn’t necessarily pretty by any means, but good teams find a way to win,” Kyle Buchanan, who had three points, said. “Me, Fields and Nanticoke are still vibing to this offense because it’s still pretty new to us. Our chemistry is only going to build.”
Dhane Smith (2+3), Chris Cloutier (2+2) and rookie Tehoka Nanticoke (1+3) also had big nights. Nine different Bandits recorded goals in the victory.
Cloutier opened the scoring in the first minute of regulation with a delayed penalty coming with beautiful feeds from Byrne and Buchanan.
Smith continued to display his tremendous passing ability as his 17 assists in four games this season ties him for second in the NLL, trailing only Jeremy Noble of the San Diego Seals (18).
Rookie Brad McCulley suited up in a Bandits uniform for the second time this season, burying the first goal of his NLL career.
Former NLL MVP Lyle Thompson scored twice in the first quarter, including his 200th regular season goal, and is the 2nd player in Swarm history to do so. Thompson was held scoreless for the remainder of the game but added three more assists for the Swarm.
Byrne scored back-to-back shorthanded goals in the middle of the second quarter to make it a 6-2 before Georgia continued to claw their way back into the game.
“It seemed like when we got up early in the game, guys kinda thought that it could be a point night and took their foot off the gas,” Bandits head coach John Tavares said. “Once they got a few goals and regained some momentum, you could hear their bench cheering every time they scored a goal.”
Being resilient is nothing new to the Swarm, as they took the Philadelphia Wings to overtime last week when Brenden Bomberry scored the tying goal at the end of regulation with 0.8 seconds left.
Georgia remained in striking distance the entire game, being down just two goals at the end of each quarter (4-2, 7-5, 8-6 and 12-10).
Both teams scored a combined five goals in the second half, one in the third and four in the fourth. Chase Fraser, Nanticoke, and Cloutier all scored their sixth goals of the season in the fourth quarter.
Undoubtedly, the goal of the night came from Fraser. His behind-the-back goal stunned goalie Mike Poulin to regain the two-goal lead.
Swarm captain Jordan MacIntosh did all he could down the stretch, scoring two goals in 38 seconds to make it a 11-10 game.
Nanticoke’s power-play goal sealed the deal for the Bandits with less than two minutes on the clock.
Buffalo has scored 12 goals in their last three games, continuing their reign at the top of the league in goals per game (13), and goal differential (+19). They push their all-time series lead over Georgia to 25-12 and 14-6 at home.
The Bandits now have a week off due to their game in Halifax being postponed. They will rest up and travel to play the New York Riptide on Saturday, January 29.
“It’s really not that much of a difference for me,” Byrne said. “Now it’s just important to make sure your body is fully recovered coming off a shorter week to begin with and making sure you’re doing all the necessary things to get ready when we do end up playing again.”
The next game in Banditland will be against the Rochester Knighthawks on Saturday, February 5.