The Buffalo Bandits will return home on a high note as they defeated the Philadelphia Wings by a score of 9-6 at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday night for their first win of the season.
John Tavares led the charge for the Bandits, as the 20-year veteran netted a hat trick and added three assists to inch closer to another milestone. Tavares is now just five goals shy from reaching 700 career goals.
Tracey Kelusky, Mark Steenhuis and Brenden Thenhaus each recorded a goal and two assists in the Bandits’ victory while goaltender Mike Thompson turned away 39 shots to earn his first win of the season.
The Wings were the first to strike after Drew Westervelt netted his second goal of the season 3:30 into the game. Buffalo countered with two goals from Chad Culp and another from Thenhaus to go up 3-1. The Wings were able to tie the game before the end of the first quarter with goals from Max Seibald and Westervelt.
Halfway through the first quarter, Wings defenseman Steve Holmes laid a bone-crushing hit on Tavares that knocked the NLL all-time leading scorer’s helmet off. Kyle Clancy wasted no time defending his teammate and challenged Holmes following the hit. Both were assessed roughing penalties.
Both teams played a tighter defensive game in the second quarter. Tavares scored the lone goal of the period when he scooped up Steve Priolo’s rebound and put it past Wings goaltender Brandon Miller, giving the Bandits a 4-3 lead going into halftime.
Tavares opened the scoring in the second half when he notched Buffalo’s fifth goal 10:38 into the third quarter. Late in the third, Seibald took an undisciplined penalty by checking Jon Harasym from behind and was assessed a five-minute major, which carried over into the fourth quarter.
The Bandits capitalized with the man advantage, as Frank Resetarits beat Miller up top to give Buffalo a three-goal lead. Midway through the fourth, Priolo got into a scrum with Wings’ defenseman Ryan McFadyen. Priolo threw a thunderous right to McFadyen’s face, forcing him to leave the game with a bloody nose. Both players received five-minute majors for the altercation.
Kelusky and Tavares tallied goals late in the fourth to add security to Buffalo’s lead. Philadelphia made it interesting late it in the game, as Athan Iannucci scored twice and Alex Turner added another to put the Wings within two. However, Steenhuis would put the icing on the cake when he scored an empty-net goal to secure the Bandits’ 9-6 win.
With the win, Buffalo improved its record to 1-1 after dropping its first game to the Calgary Roughnecks last weekend. The Bandits will return home for their bout with the 2-0 Toronto Rock next Saturday at HSBC Arena for a 7:30 p.m. start.