A big opportunity, Bandits head into a back-to-back weekend with first place on the line
The Buffalo Bandits (4-3) will pay a visit to the New England Black Wolves (4-2) before coming home to host the Georgia Swarm (3-3) this weekend. The Friday/Saturday back-to-back is their first of the season and winning both games would give Buffalo sole possession of first place in the East.
The Bandits are coming off a convincing road win in Rochester last weekend when they beat the Knighthawks 16-14 at the Blue Cross Arena. Buffalo’s head coach Troy Cordingley was pleased with his team’s effort.
“I wouldn’t question our heart, our effort or our desire after that game, but we weren’t the smartest team on the floor at times,” said Cordingley. “But those are things that we can fix, which is a positive.”
Dhane Smith has been finding his stride and will be key to the offense’s success going forward. The righty forward put up 11 points (3+8) in Rochester last weekend.
“The thing I like about Dhane’s game right now is that there’s a lot of grit. He’s taking a lot of beatings out there, fighting for loose balls and getting back in transition,” noted Cordingley. “He’s definitely our leader out front.”
Smith leads the Bandits with 47 points which is good enough to have him third in the league. First overall pick Josh Byrne also seems to be settling into his role with Buffalo. The rookie scored five goals in Rochester and is hoping to keep going in a positive direction.
“I feel less nervous now that I’m getting used to the speed of the game,” said Byrne. “With the offense we have, Dhane, Crawford, Durston, Jones, I’m kind of the last guy for the defense to worry about, so when I get my chances I’m going to take advantage of it.”
The Bandits will have their work cut out on Friday when they head to Uncasville, CT to take on the Black Wolves.
“They’re a really good team. I’ve played against Boldy (Aaron Bold) a lot and I know he can get hot. But, we’re going to go in there with confidence,” said Byrne. “This is our first back-to-back of the season, but we’ll be ready.”
The Bandits are also looking forward to returning home on Saturday after almost a month away from ‘Banditland.’
Buffalo GM Steve Dietrich also made a move this week, sending lefty forward Pat Saunders to Vancouver in exchange for the Stealth’s transition player Thomas Hoggarth.
“Saunders is a good goal scorer in this league and was good for us when he got in the lineup,” Dietrich said. “We got a big, young defender in Hoggarth in return. He’s a guy we think can help us in the future.”
Faceoff on Friday is scheduled for 7:30P.M. from the Mohegan Sun Arena. Saturday’s faceoff is set for 7:30P.M. from the KeyBank Center.