MORNING SHOOT AROUND UPDATE:
-Bandits defender Billy Dee Smith will play tonight, according to Bandits head coach Darris Kilgour. Smith had served the remainder of a suspension for the first two games of the season and sat out against the Knighthawks last weekend with an ankle injury.
-Bandits tansition player Jon Harasym will serve the remainder of his two game suspension. Harasym was suspended by the NLL after taking two penalties in the first period of the home-opener against Minnesota, including a five-minute major for an illegal cross check.
-Kilgour also said that defender Jimmy Purves will sit this game out. "He's taken three five-minute penalties this year. He's got to control himself better. So he'll sit out a game to think about it," Kilgour said.
-Kilgour also added that the team wants to show the Wings who the real Bandits are after the poorly played opening night loss in Philadelphia. "We're a high pressure team all over the floor. We didn't do that in Philadelphia. If they're planning on what we did last time, they'll be making a mistake," Kilgour said.
Coming off a come-from-behind victory against the rival Rochester Knighthawks, the Buffalo Banidts (2-1) will look to avenge an opening night loss to the undefeated Philadelphia Wings (2-0) on Saturday night at First Niagara Center.
Tonight's match-up opens a three-game homestand for the Bandits, who are 88-52 all-time at home. Buffalo has not lost at home since March 31, 2012 against Toronto.
The Bandits have a very slight edge in the all-time series, as they are 23-22 all-time against the Wings and are 13-10 when playing the Wings in Buffalo.
Veteran forward Shawn Williams continues to be the story offensively for the Bandits. Williams leads the team with 15 points (4+11), including an eight-point performance against the Knighthawks last Saturday.
“Points come when the offense is doing its job. Against Rochester, the ball was flowing a lot better,” Williams said. “The key is to do our jobs and keep doing what’s expected of us on the offensive end. Accountability has been the key.”
The game will be the 200th consecutive game Williams has played in, an NLL record.
“It’s one of those things, where you keep plugging away and it creeps up on you. I’m especially happy to be wearing a Bandits jersey for this game,” Williams said of his milestone night. “I’m proud to be a part of this league and this will be very special.”
Penalties were the Achilles’ heel for the Bandits in their first game against the Wings. The Bandits want nothing more than to put that loss behind them, and expect to play much better on Saturday.
“We ran into some penalty trouble, especially in the first half,” Williams said. “It’s all about momentum in this league and we couldn’t get any flow going.”
“We’ve gotten better each quarter we’ve played,” Bandits head coach Darris Kligour said. “We’re really excited to get another chance at [the Wings]. We didn’t play well the last time we played them and we’re looking forward to showing them who the real Buffalo Bandits are.”
The game in Buffalo will be the first game of a back-to-back for the Wings, who will go on to play the Calgary Roughnecks on Sunday. Head coach Johnny Mouradian credits starting goalie Brandon Miller and his defense for the team’s strong start. Miller leads the league with a save percentage of .865 and a 7.50 goals against average.
“The way Miller played against Buffalo and Toronto, he’s having a great start,” Mouradian said. “Miller and our defense give us an opportunity, even if we’re struggling offensively. We’re defense-first right now and that’s giving us an opportunity to win.”
The undefeated Wings are lead by Kevin Crowley, who had four goals and an assist when these teams met in week one. However, ex-Bandit Kevin Buchanan, who registered six points (3+3) in the first game against Buffalo, has caught the eye of Mouradian.
“Kevin is off to a good start. He’s really starting to blossom as a player,” Mouradian said of Buchanan. “We’re really happy with what he adds to our team.”
Buchanan was acquired in an offseason trade between the Bandits and the Wings that saw transition player David Brock and forward Mike Hominuck come to Buffalo. Buchanan is second on the Wings in points with nine, while Hominuck scored a hat trick for the Bandits against Rochester.
Game time is set for 7:30 p.m. at First Niagara Center (The Lacrosse Network/KB1520 AM). Fans can purchase tickets online at tickets.com or at First Niagara Center box office.