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Buffalo with 16-9 road win as Colorado's rocky start continues

01/18/2014, 11:45pm EST
By Mammoth beat writer Nick Salen for NLL.com

Dhane Smith scores four as Bandits earn first-ever win at Pepsi Center

The Buffalo Bandits (3-1) rolled past the Colorado Mammoth (1-5) with a 16-9 road win before a crowd of 14,822 at Pepsi Center in Denver on Saturday night. The loss marks Colorado’s fourth straight in two back-to-back night series in two weeks.

Dhane Smith (4g,2a) and Steve Priolo (3g,1a) led the Bandits offense in the club’s third-straight victory and first ever win in the Mile High City.

“I thought we were real good,” Bandits head coach Troy Cordingley. “I thought we we’re real good in pressuring and creating turnovers and pushing the ball in transition…it gave us that energy early in the game and we continued.”

John Tavares, the team’s leader in goals, was not in the lineup, but was no problem for the visiting team, who had eight separate shooters register goals.

“The guys knew we had to bare down, our leader is not in the lineup and other guys had to pick up their game, and they did tonight,” Cordingley added.

Buffalo pulled out to an early lead in the opening minutes, thanks in part to their transition game and Jamie Rooney, sparking a four-goal run. Priolo would record three of Buffalo’s five goals in the opening frame, and held Colorado to a single score. The Bandits would add three more in the second, but a five goal surge by the Mammoth, capped off by three in 56 seconds, kept the game tight going into the half with the score 8-6.

Colorado’s struggles in the third quarter reared its ugly head once again in tonight’s matchup, being held to a lone score compared to Buffalo’s six, essentially putting the game out of reach for the home team.

“We looked like a tired team tonight, no excuses,” Mammoth head coach Bob Hamley commented. “We battled back to 8-6, and came out flat in the third quarter.”

Adam Jones (3g, 2a) highlighted the Colorado offense once again, remaining the NLL points leader heading into Week #5.

Athan Iannucci (2g, 1a) netted his first goal with the Mammoth in his second game with the team.

Tye Belanger recorded six saves on 11 shots in just less than 13 minutes of game time before being pulled for the fifth time in a game this season. Dillon Ward, who played all 60 minutes in Friday’s loss in Vancouver, relieved Belanger for the rest of the game, stopping 33 of 42 faced.

Hamley simply stated that the team cannot rely on momentum swings through swapping Ward and Belanger.

“We got to figure out a way to battle through it without changing goalies every goal.”

Anthony Cosmo stood tall throughout the night for Buffalo, posting 32 saves. The veteran netminder credited the team with an extraordinary overall effort, but noted one of the keys to Saturday’s victory was defense and attacking a fatigued Mammoth squad.

“It was a great team performance,” Cosmo said. “Defensively I thought we did a great job in keeping these guys to the outside…We tried to put little more pressure on them than we usually would and the game plan worked great.”

Colorado sits at the bottom of the West Division heading into next week, where they will travel back to Alberta to face the Calgary Roughnecks for the second time this month. Game time is set for Saturday, Jan. 25 at 9 ET.

Buffalo meanwhile will travel back home to First Niagara Center to host the Rochester Knighthawks in a game that could move the Bandits into first place in the East Division.

Three Stars of the Game as selected by the media:

1) Steve Priolo
2) Dhane Smith
3) Athan Iannucci

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