2/22/2019 10:30:00 PM / Nick Konotopskyj
The Buffalo Bandits used their depth and superior goaltending to pull away from the Rochester Knighthawks in a 16-9 road win Friday night at Blue Cross Arena.
The win sends Buffalo into sole possession of first place in the NLL with a 9-2 record while the Knighthawks drop to 2-7 on the season. It’s the fifth straight victory for the Bandits and eighth out of their last nine games.
After going into halftime leading just 6-5, Buffalo outscored Rochester 10-4 in the second half and put the game away comfortably midway through the fourth quarter.
Dhane Smith led the Bandits in scoring with nine points (2+7) while Chris Cloutier had seven points (2+5) and Shawn Evans had six points (3+3). Chase Fraser led the Bandits in goals with four on the night and Corey Small and Thomas Hoggarth also had strong performances for Buffalo.
Matt Vinc had another great performance in net for the Bandits, stopping 45 out of 54 shots for a save percentage of .833. Another deciding factor in this game was with the man advantage. Buffalo was 4-for-7 on the power play while Rochester was 0-for-3.
Austin Shanks opened the scoring when he snuck a shot off the pad of Matt Vinc and into the net to give the Knighthawks the early 1-0 lead. With just over five minutes left in the first quarter, the Bandits tied the game at one when Thomas Hoggarth scored his 22nd goal of the season.
Less than two minutes later, Hoggarth connected again on the power play thanks to a no-look, behind-the-back pass from Shawn Evans. Dhane Smith scored the final goal of the quarter as the Bandits took a 3-1 lead into the second quarter.
Smith scored yet again for Buffalo to begin the second quarter and then less than one minute later, Evans ripped a shot by Rochester’s goalie, Angus Goodleaf.
After that 5-0 Bandits run, Rochester scored the next two goals to make it a 5-3 game. Cody Jamieson and Shanks were the Knighthawks who cut the lead in half for Rochester.
Graeme Hossack and Scott Campbell carried that momentum for Rochester late in the second quarter as they both scored and tied the game. However, Jordan Durston stopped the Knighthawks run by regaining the lead for Buffalo 6-5 going into halftime.
Vinc stopped 27 of 32 shots in the first half for Buffalo while Goodleaf stopped 20 of 26 shots. Both goalies made several breakaway saves in the first half of play.
Chris Cloutier scored the first goal in the second half for Buffalo to make it 7-5 Bandits. Rochester and Buffalo traded goals when Eric Fannell and Chase Fraser scored goals that were 12 seconds apart. The teams kept trading goals as Brad Gillies scored for Rochester to and then Evans scored his second goal of the game for Buffalo.
Buffalo was able to end the third quarter by scoring another three goals with two from Fraser and one from Corey Small and the Bandits led 12-7 going into the fourth quarter. That 4-0 run to end the third quarter ended up giving Buffalo the separation they needed and it was the run that put the game out of reach.
Rochester’s Cory Vitarelli scored the opening goal of the final quarter to make it 12-8 Bandits with less than nine minutes remaining, but that was the closest the Knighthawks would get in the fourth as the Bandits scored the next three goals from Cloutier, Small and Evans. Fraser was able to score the final Buffalo goal of the game to give the Bandits the seven-goal win.
Buffalo will be off next week on a bye so their next game will be held at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 8 on the road against the Philadelphia Wings from the Wells Fargo Center. The following night, Buffalo will return home to face the Georgia Swarm at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 9.