The Buffalo Bandits (1-0) kicked off the team’s 25th anniversary season in front of 14,286 fans at First Niagara Center with a 10-9 win over the Calgary Roughnecks (0-2) on Saturday night.
Bandits assistant captain David Brock opened the scoring with a goal in transition at the 2:54 mark of the first quarter. Curtis Dickson scored a short-handed goal before Dhane Smith notched a tally on the power play and Nick Weiss scored in transition to give the Bandits a 3-1 lead. The Roughnecks ended the first quarter with two goals from Dane Dobbie and left the game tied at 3-3.
Calgary took its first lead of the game on a power play goal from Jeff Shattler before Daryl Veltman scored against his former team to tie the game at 4. Calgary (Wesley Berg) and Buffalo (Ryan Benesch) traded power play goals to end the half with the score tied at 5-5.
Kevin Brownell and Mitch Jones both scored on the same penalty kill to give the Bandits a two-goal lead to start the second half. Tyler Digby found the net for Calgary and ended the 3rd quarter with the score 7-6 in favor of Buffalo.
Mitch Wilde scored for the Bandits 20 seconds into the fourth quarter before Digby netted his second goal to keep the game close at 8-7. Benesch scored for Buffalo before Dickson and Digby answered for Calgary and tied the game at 9. Smith scored on a great deke with 1:10 to go to give the Bandits a 10-9 lead and seal the game.
Bandits head coach Troy Cordingley wasn’t too pleased with the team’s offensive production, but he was happy with the team’s defense and transition.
“That might have been the worst shooting percentage I’ve seen since I’ve been here. At halftime we had missed the net 20 times. Offensively, I think we were out of sync the whole game. But, give credit to the players, they found a way and Dhane [Smith] scored a big goal for us,” said Cordingley. “Transition was the strength of our team that game. There were shifts of brilliance on defense. We pressured the ball well and kept our assignments.”
Anthony Cosmo was strong in net, stopping 41 of the 50 shots he faced. He credited his defense slowing down some of Calgary’s top scorers for his success.
“Our defense played really well today. We’ve got a new system that Troy [Cordingley] and [assistant coach] Rich Kilgour are trying out and I thought we did a good job at playing that system and staying compact at the same time,” noted the Bandits goalie. “We weren’t too overzealous and we forced guys down the wall which made easy shots for me to stop.”
With the loss the Roughnecks dropped both of their first two games, but their team has overcome adversity before. Head coach Curt Malawsky rallied his team last year to a playoff spot after starting 0-6. Although they face an uphill battle, Coach Malawsky knows they have to keep working hard.
“I told the team we need to limit mistakes; those mistakes make for a lot of hard work. These are the growing pains of a young team,” Malawsky said. “We have a big game next week down in New England. We have a short week and a short memory. We’ll have a nice travel day down there and get to stay together as a team on the road. We need to execute. One shot either way, here or there, and this season turns around.”
Dobbie led all runners with seven points (2+5) and Smith led the Bandits with five points (2+3). The Roughnecks outshot the Bandits 50-43.
Buffalo travels to Colorado to face the Mammoth next Saturday while Calgary travels to New England to face the Black Wolves on Friday.
Three Stars as selected by the media:
1) Dhane Smith
2) Tyler Digby
3) Ryan Benesch
By Steve Bermel (@BanditsBeat) for NLL.com.