By Jeff Baker - Bandits.com
The road to the playoffs just got tougher for the Buffalo Bandits. The Calgary Roughnecks used a 10-goal second-half scoring run to cruise to a 16-9 home win at Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday night.
While the Bandits (8-8) still control their own destiny, Buffalo didn’t get any help in the East Division race after the Georgia Swarm (9-7) jumped ahead to second place by beating the Saskatchewan Rush while the New England Black Wolves (8-8) pulled even with a win over the Colorado Mammoth.
Holden Cattoni had a career night with five goals, Dane Dobbie scored a hat trick and Christian Del Bianco made 45 saves as the postseason-bound Roughnecks (7-9) showed zero complacency despite being locked into the third spot in the West.
Mitch Jones, Jordan Durston and Vaughn Harris each scored twice for Buffalo in the losing effort that saw their offense go cold in the second half in their final road game of the regular season.
Needing a win for some breathing room in their final two home games, the Bandits started off the game strong. When Mitch de Snoo scored with 33 seconds left half, Buffalo was up 7-6 and on a three-goal run.
Then the momentum changed in a split second. With the extra attacker on the turf for the Roughnecks, Dobbie scored with 0.6 on the clock to tie the game at 7-7 heading into halftime.
Three Calgary goals, two by the second-year pro Cattoni, in the first 1:49 of the second half put Buffalo in a comeback mode they couldn’t overcome while playing in a hostile environment with a crowd of 17,113.
The Roughnecks added two more goals to chase Bandits starter Alex Buque with a 12-7 lead before Zach Higgins came on in relief. After being shut out in the third quarter, the results were the same in the final frame. Calgary netted another four-straight goals in the first half of the fourth quarter make it 16-7 and cap off the double-digit unanswered goal streak.
The Bandits scored a powerplay goal, a bright spot on the night as they went 4-for-7 with the man advantage, with 6:47 left in regulation to pull within 16-8 before Jones’ second of the night three minutes later ended the scoring.
Multiple playoff scenarios remain in the play in the crowded East standings. The Bandits will need to win at least one of their next two matchups or potentially both depending on other outcomes around the East.
Buffalo finishes the regular season at home with two all-important matchups, first a must-win matchup with the Toronto Rock (7-9) on Saturday, April 21 before the Bandits host the Rochester Knighthawks (9-7) in the finale on April 28.