The Buffalo Bandits are back at home this weekend to take on the visiting Calgary Roughnecks. The Bandits are coming off a big 19-9 road win in Georgia over a star-studded Swarm team. That win now puts them at 7-2 (and second in the East) heading into this contest. For Calgary, they’ve had an up and down season at 5-4, but the past few weeks have seen them pick up crucial wins over Saskatchewan and Vancouver.
Buffalo’s dominating win last week proves just how dangerous of a team they are when everyone’s firing on all cylinders. They were able to bury three goals in the first, and with a great defensive effort from the back door and Matt Vinc between the pipes, they were also able to shut-out the Swarm in the first.
They were then able to string together runs with the likes of Shawn Evans and Corey Small putting up four goals, and five goals respectively. That type of play is something Calgary needs to limit if they want to win this one.
For the Bandits injury front, it is unclear when forward Josh Byrne will return. The 2018 NLL All-Rookie Team member suffered a lower body injury several weeks ago, and the coaching staff has been slow to bring him back due to his young age and time in the season. His injury, like Dhane Smith’s earlier, has proven the depth the Bandits have on the offensive side of the ball, and shows that players can step up when needed.
To add even more offensive threat, the Bandits acquired rookie forward Chris Cloutier from Philadelphia February 6th, in exchange for Ryan Wagner and a 2021 first round pick. He didn’t suit up last week against Georgia, so this Calgary game could be his first in the orange and black.
Cloutier’s acquisition striked many, here is a high first round pick rookie being traded for just another future first round draft selection, and Ryan Wagner (a player who seemed to just slip through the cracks in Buffalo).
Was Philadelphia simply cutting their losses early?
“(Cloutier) needed to be a number one guy with us, and he really isn’t going to be in the short term,” Wings Head Coach Paul Day told NLL.com. “It’s going to take some time. He can go to Buffalo and kind of work on his fitness and get fit to contribute there.”
Certainly a team like Buffalo has the environment for a young player to develop without having the pressures of assuming star status for a new franchise like Philadelphia.
Unlike the Bandits performance last week which saw them jump to huge leads early, the Roughnecks had a real battle with the Rush last week. They managed to come back after an early slump, and take the win 17-12. The Roughnecks offensive threats in Dane Dobbie, Curtis Dickson, and Tyler Pace all put up four goals each en-route to the win.
Traditionally in Calgary it’s been the Dobbie and Dickson show on offense, but lately they’ve had some real gems (like Pace) step up to add to the score sheet. Look for that again in this matchup against Buffalo.
Game time is set for 7:30pm EST at Key Bank Center in Buffalo. It can be watched with a subscription on the B/R Live app which is available on the web or through iTunes, Google Play, Roku, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire.