Chris Cloutier scored just one goal at Nassau Coliseum on Sunday against the New York Riptide, but it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Buffalo didn’t trail in the game until 5:07 into the fourth quarter, as part of a 7-0 Riptide run. Trailing 17-14, the Bandits rattled off an impressive three goals in the final 3:29 to force overtime.
The Bandits remained on the man advantage heading into overtime due to a five-minute major penalty on Jay Thorimbert that occurred with 2:44 remaining in regulation.
Cloutier received the pass from Dhane Smith and buried the game winner to complete the Bandits comeback.
“It doesn’t matter how many we are down by. We knew we were in the game and had to weather the storm,” Cloutier told the ESPN+ broadcasting crew after the game.
Buffalo is now 5-0 for the first time since 2009.
The game included nine power-play goals and impressive special teams while both teams exchanged runs between two of the league’s top offenses.
Smith had a double-digit point performance (2+9), including team-highs in a game in points (11), and assists (9) this season.
Tehoka Nanticoke (4+2), Connor Fields (3+3) and Josh Byrne (3+2) all recorded hat tricks. In the third quarter, forward Chase Fraser (2+2) registered the 100th point in his NLL career.
Former Bandit Callum Crawford and rookie Jeff Teat each posted double-digit point totals to spark the Riptide comeback.
Crawford, with 11 points, netted his 400th career goal with 52 seconds remaining in the first half to become the 16th player in NLL history to do so. Teat, the first overall pick in the 2020 NLL draft, recorded the third hat trick of his young career to go with seven assists.
Bandits goaltender Matt Vinc stopped 32 shots, while rookie Steven Orleman made 39 saves.
Buffalo went on a 4-1 run (including three goals in 55 seconds) to end the first quarter after the game was tied at three to start out the game. The only other time the Bandits scored seven goals in the quarter was back on opening night against Calgary in a 16-9 victory.
A stagnant second quarter saw both teams combining for a total of five goals as Buffalo got out to a 10-6 lead heading into the break.
In the third quarter, the Riptide set the tone with back-to-back power-play goals in the first 1:24 from Tyson Gibson and Teat that turned a 3-0 Buffalo run into a 3-0 New York run.
Nanticoke completed the hat trick for Buffalo along with Fields and Smith picking up their second of the day to go up 14-10.
In the last minute of the third, Larson Sundown scored the Riptide’s third power-play goal of the frame to cut the deficit to three.
Sundown’s goal would ignite a 7-0 run for New York, with six goals in the first 7:52 of the fourth quarter. Crawford, Teat, Sundown, and Jake Fox completed their hat-tricks during that run that catapulted the Riptide to a 17-14 lead.
As time was winding down in regulation, Fraser cut the lead to two for New York. The Bandits first goal of the quarter came with just 3:51 left.
Nanticoke would draw a crucial five-minute major penalty to go on a 5-on-3 power-play. Byrne ripped a shot that Orleman couldn’t handle in the crease leading to Fields cleaning up the rebound and making it a one-goal game.
With just 21 seconds left on the clock, Byrne showed that he had ice in his veins scoring the game-tying goal on the man advantage.
Cloutier’s golden goal would be a sigh of relief for Bandits fans that escape the valiant effort from the Riptide. New York outscored Buffalo 11-7 in the second half, including 6-3 in the fourth to force overtime.
The Bandits escape Long Island to become only undefeated team remaining in the NLL. They are the third team to earn five wins, joining the Philadelphia Wings and San Diego Seals.
Buffalo’s next game will take place against the Rochester Knighthawks on Saturday, February 5 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are on sale now.