The Buffalo Bandits captured a 15-12 win in a back-and-forth affair over the Colorado Mammoth Saturday night at KeyBank Center. The win keeps Buffalo in the race for first place in a packed East Division, setting them up for a great matchup next week against Georgia, who just barely edge them out in the standings. At 6-2 now, the Bandits are in a good spot to make a real run. For the Mammoth, their struggles continue as this one drops them to 1-6.
The Bandits came out strong right out of the gate. Veteran forward Shawn Evans snagged two quick goals to put the orange and black up early, and Chase Fraser and Jordan Durston also found the back of the net. With smart ball control and a defense that wasn’t giving Mammoth shooters any room, the Bandits were up 4-0 over Colorado by the end of the first quarter. Things were looking good.
“It was just back and forth,” said Bandits Co-Head Coach Rich Kilgour. “We could never kick them and make them stay down.”
And the Mammoth wouldn’t be down for long. It was almost as if the scoresheet flipped, as the Mammoth went on a four-goal unanswered run of their own to open up the second quarter. Eli McLaughlin buried the first one, and after that, things just seemed to fall into place for the Mammoth.
“We kind of relaxed a little bit on the bench,” said Bandits forward Chase Fraser on his teams’ second quarter outing. “They came back to make it close, and we just got the energy back. We got yelled at a little bit too, told to pick it up.”
Fraser had a great offensive outing for Buffalo. He was one of three Bandits to record a hat trick in the win, along with Shawn Evans and Dhane Smith. That effort of sharing the ball and getting everyone involved on offense is something Buffalo has been making a reality this season.
“It’s not like usual where you have those two goal scorers that score a lot,” said Smith. “It’s everyone, you see Hoggarth coming out of his own and putting the ball in the back of the net. And you see our transition stepping up, and when we need a goal, they get us one.”
Once Buffalo was able to stop the Mammoth’s second quarter run with a goal courtesy of Matt Gilray, it started another unanswered run. And that trend seemed to continue all game, and despite Colorado never actually gaining the lead, they were never out of it either. Chris Wardle and Kyle Killen were both able to tie things up once each in both halves, but Colorado could never quite gain the lead over Buffalo.
While Buffalo did give up their early four goal lead, they were able to prove they could play the game of runs that has become ever so prevalent in the National Lacrosse League. A game like this can only help them as they travel to Georgia to take on an offensively studded team like the Swarm next week.
With this game, the Bandits have now played over half of their scheduled home games, leaving much of the fate of the season away from home. For them, it’s a time to hunker down, and take their style of game on the road. They’ll need it to if they want to break from the pack in a tight East Division which sees the Swarm ahead of them by one game, and Toronto at the head of the division with only one loss.