2/9/2019 10:00:00 PM / Nick Konotopskyj
Heading in, the Buffalo Bandits game against the Georgia Swarm on Saturday was viewed as a battle between the top two scoring offenses and two of the best teams in the National Lacrosse League. By the end of the match, the Bandits came out on top, earning a 19-9 road victory at Infinite Energy Center.
The win allows the Bandits to climb ahead of Georgia in the standings. Buffalo is now 7-2 at the halfway point of the regular season. They are tied with the Toronto Rock (6-1) for first place in not just the Eastern Division, but the entire NLL as well.
Dhane Smith didn’t score any goals in the game, but had 11 assists, accounting for the most points on the night for the Bandits. Shawn Evans finished with 10 points (4+6) and all four of his goals came on the power play. Corey Small was first in goals with five and he finished the game with seven points overall.
It was yet another game when the Bandits scored first and played with a lead. Steve Priolo added his sixth goal of the season to open the scoring. Thomas Hoggarth quickly made it 2-0 Bandits early in the quarter.
It was crucial for Buffalo get out to a fast start on the road against the second-highest scoring offense in the NLL. Small added a power-play goal with less than five minutes left in the quarter and Buffalo took that 3-0 lead into the second quarter.
Buffalo outshot Georgia 14-5 in the opening quarter, but the Bandits defense and goalie Matt Vinc were able to keep the Swarm offense down.
Scoring picked up for both teams in the second quarter. The Swarm got a goal from Connor Sellars to make it 3-1 before Priolo added his second goal of the game to expand the Bandits lead back to three.
Zed Williams scored the next goal for the Swarm and then Lyle Thompson capitalized for Georgia on a penalty shot to put Georgia within one. However, Buffalo was able to stop that mini-run by scoring twice in less than one minute thanks to goals by Small and Ian MacKay.
Matt Spanger added another goal for Buffalo to make it 7-3. After Williams scored his second goal of the game for the Swarm, the Bandits closed out the first half by scoring the final two goal, courtesy of Chase Fraser and Small.
The Bandits took a 9-4 lead into halftime, absorbing that Georgia run and quickly regaining the momentum as the quarter went on.
The Bandits picked up the second half right where they left off, scoring early and often. Hoggarth and Small continued their hot play to make it 11-4 Buffalo. Small’s fourth goal of the night was his 600th career point.
Then, the Bandits had a 5-on-3 advantage when Shawn Evans scored on the power play. He scored again when it was 5-on-4 and it made the score 13-4. Hoggarth added another goal for the Bandits before Shayne Jackson stopped the Bandits run to make it 14-5.
Small scored his fifth goal of the game on the power play to give the Bandits a 15-5 lead entering the fourth quarter. Evans added two more power-play goals in the fourth quarter while the other two Bandits goals were scored by Jordan Durston and Fraser.
The Bandits outshot the Swarm 62-34 on the night and they converted on six of eight power-play opportunities. According to the B/R Live telecast, this 10-goal margin was the worst home loss in the history of the Georgia Swarm.
The Bandits will return to action on Saturday, Feb. 16 against the Calgary Roughnecks at KeyBank Center. Opening faceoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.