3/9/2019 11:00:00 PM / Nick Konotopskyj
After a dramatic overtime victory in Philadelphia on Friday night, the Buffalo Bandits were unable to keep that momentum going Saturday as they lost to the Georgia Swarm 14-9 at KeyBank Center. It was the final regular season matchup this season between these two as Georgia gets its revenge after a 19-9 Bandits win in Georgia on Feb. 9.
The loss marks the end of a six-game winning streak for the Bandits, who are now 10-3 on the season. The Swarm move to 9-4 with the win and are still one game behind the Bandits with five regular-season games remaining for each team. The Bandits remain atop the East Division and NLL standings even with the loss on Saturday night.
Buffalo was led in scoring by Dhane Smith with five points (3+2) while Jordan Durston had four points (2+2) and Thomas Hoggarth recorded three (2+1). Georgia’s Randy Staats was their leading scorer with five points (4+1).
“Anytime coming off a back-to-back it’s easy to make excuses and we were just flat all weekend to be honest,” Smith said. “Philly gave us a run last night and Georgia took it to us tonight. It was a good wake-up call because going six straight isn’t easy, but we needed that in order to move forward.”
Just two minutes into the game, two Buffalo penalties gave Georgia a 5-on-3 and the Swarm converted with a goal from Randy Staats to make it 1-0. The Bandits were able to kill off the rest of those penalties and just a few minutes later, Matt Vinc sent a long pass up ahead to Ethan O’Connor who scored a transition goal to tie the game 1-1.
Bryan Cole gave Georgia a brief lead, but Chase Fraser continued his hot shooting with his fifth goal this weekend to make it 2-2 midway through the opening quarter.
Just after that, the Bandits went on their first power play of the game, but allowed two shorthanded goals from Cole and Chad Tutton and the Swarm took a 4-2 lead.
It was a rough first period for Matt Vinc as he allowed his fifth and sixth goals back-to-back. Sed Williams and Brendan Bomberry scored and the Bandits found themselves down four goals.
“We didn’t think we were going to go 16-2,” head coach Rich Kilgour said. “At the same time, you don’t want to lose like that. It doesn’t matter if you lose by one or lose by 10 because a loss is a loss. We’re going to learn from it and move on.”
With 9.9 seconds left in the first quarter, Smith stopped the Georgia run with his first goal of the game and the Swarm lead was 6-3 after the first quarter. Miles Thompson scored his first goal for the Swarm early in the second quarter and it was quickly 7-3 Georgia.
Georgia’s John Ranagan took a five-minute major penalty which gave the Bandits a chance to get back in the game. In addition to that, Georgia’s Jason Noble was also sent to the box and the Bandits had a two-man advantage.
Unfortunately for the Bandits, they were unable to take advantage of that power play opportunity. They did however score shortly after the power play with a goal from Hoggarth to make it 7-4. The Bandits continued to chip away as Smith scored his second goal of the game and the Georgia lead was down to two. However, Staats scored the final goal of the half, which gave the Swarm an 8-5 lead at the break.
The Bandits started the third quarter on the power play and Smith buried his third goal of the game to cut the deficit to two goals. There was about a seven-minute stretch without any goals, but then Staats connected on his third goal of the evening to make it 9-6 Swarm.
The Bandits scored their second power play of the quarter when Durston found the back of the net to make it 9-7. That was the closest the Bandits would get as Georgia came right back and scored the next two goals from Lyle Thompson and Staats to make it 11-7.
“We did get it down to two goals in the second half, but then we let it slip away,” Kilgour said. “It was a disappointing night, but they’re a really good team. I’m sure they were pretty mad with how we beat them last time. Some nights you’re the hammer and some nights you’re the nail. We’ve been the hammer a lot, but we got to be the nail tonight.”
Buffalo entered the fourth quarter down by four goals and Georgia added to that with two more goals from Miles Thompson and Shayne Jackson to make it 13-7 Swarm. Bomberry added his second goal of the game a few minutes later and the Swarm were pulling away with a 14-7 lead with 11 minutes remaining.
“We just need to worry about the next game,” Smith said. “I think we’re thinking too much and it showed tonight.”
Hoggarth was able to score his second goal of the game for Buffalo, but the Bandits were still down six goals. Durston scored his second goal of the game a few minutes later as well and the Bandits lost by that 14-9 score.
“Our offense wasn’t hitting our shots and we weren’t hitting our opportunities tonight,” Fraser said. “We just didn’t play well at all tonight and we have to pick it up for next weekend and get back in the winning column.”
The Bandits will now travel on the road to face the defending NLL champion Saskatchewan Rush (6-4) on Saturday, March 16 at 9:30 p.m. from Sasktel Centre.