One goal wins are starting to become the Buffalo Bandits’ specialty this season. Forward Luke Wiles scored the game winning goal on a power play with 23.6 seconds left to propel the Bandits (3-1) to a 14-13 win and hand the Philadelphia Wings (2-1) their first loss of the season.
The win puts the Bandits on a three-game winning streak; all of them were one-goal games. The Bandits are also 2-0 at home this season.
“I had all the confidence in the world in these guys. No panic,” Bandits head coach Darris Kilgour said.
“These games are fun to play in. A little hard on the heart, though,” Bandits forward Shawn Williams said. “We’re happy to be on this side of it, be we know how close we are to being on the losing side.”
Mike Hominuck had a hat trick for the Bandits for the second straight week. He wasted no time tonight, scoring seven seconds into the game, and adding another goal three minutes later to give the Bandits a 3-1 lead.
“It obviously feels good,” Hominuck said. “I feel like I have a lot to offer to the team. I’m just trying to prove myself.”
The Wings, however, went on to score four answered goals, including two power play goals, to take a 5-3 lead. Jordan Hall added two of his three goals in that span in his return to the Wings’ lineup.
The Bandits would come roaring back with four unanswered goals of their own, including Hominuck’s hat trick goal.
The teams continued to trade goals in bunches. The Bandits often answered Philadelphia’s tying goals with one or two of their own.
Bandits captain John Tavares appeared to have scored the game winner with just over four minutes remaining in the game, as he ripped a point shot past Brandon Miller to give the Bandits a 13-12 lead.
The game seemed to be all but put away when Paul Rabil was assessed an illegal body checking penalty when he hit Mark Steenhuis just outside of the Bandits zone.
The Wings, however, were able to capitalize on a turnover. Brodie Merill broke out two-on-one with Drew Westervelt, and got the ball past Bandits goalie Anthony Cosmo but fired the shot off of the right post. Westervelt quickly followed up and fired the rebound past Cosmo to tie the game with just over 40 seconds left in the game. The goal was Westervelt’s third of the game.
Wiles decided that he wanted to end the game in regulation. While the Bandits were still on the power play, Wiles took a feed in front of the net and slipped the ball between Miller’s legs to take the lead with 26 seconds left and give the Bandits the win.
“It makes me a feel a whole lot better, I’ve been struggling a little bit,” Wiles said. “It’s nice to get that goal and get the monkey off of my back.”
A great save by Cosmo in the dying seconds of the game on Kevin Ross helped seal the win. Ross, with Brandon Miller pulled, was able to get in alone on Cosmo, but he was able to get his glove on the shot, denying Ross the tying goal.
Shawn Williams also had a big game. Playing in his NLL-record 200th consecutive game, Williams tallied six assists in the game. He pushed his team lead in points to 21 (four goals, 17 assists) in the four games he has played this season.
“It’s just playing lacrosse. The good things happen when you play simple,” Williams said. “You want to be in the lineup every week, because that means you’re a part of it. If you’re a part of it, you’re contributing.”
Wiles, Williams, and the rest of their Bandits teammates will look to stretch their winning streak to four next Saturday, as they will take on the Toronto Rock in the second game of a three-game home stand. Game time is set for 7:30 PM (The Lacrosse Network/ KB1520 AM).