The Buffalo Bandits upended the New England Black Wolves last night 12-6, before a packed home crowd at the Key Bank Center. The Bandits were able to control the game whistle to whistle, and played a full sixty minutes of intense lacrosse, even outshooting New England 57-45. With this win, and Georgia’s loss to Philadelphia, Buffalo has secured the number one playoff seed in the East Division. That now makes this matchup one we will see again in just a few short weeks.
The Bandits came out swinging right out of the gate, with Dhane Smith (1g,4a) sinking what would be his only goal of the night 30 seconds into the contest. Tyler Digby (2g) answered back for the Black Wolves two minutes later, and before long it was just a one goal game at the end of the first thanks to Joe Resetarits (2g) putting two consecutive goals past Vinc to make it 5-4.
The game quickly slipped away from New England after the first quarter of the play, as they would score just two goals for the rest of the night.
“One of the keys for us as an offensive group is to not give up those goals in transition,” said Bandits forward Corey Small. “I thought we did a good job in that tonight. I’m sure they had a few breakaways, but when you have a guy like Matt [Vinc] back there to make those saves, it’s huge.”
Vinc made 39 stops for Buffalo before the final buzzer. The St. Catherines, ON native was one of several key acquisitions made by the front office this past off-season. He spent the past eight years in Rochester playing for the rival Knighthawks, but he seems to be fitting in just fine in the orange and black.
“I knew we had a lot of pieces here,” said Vinc of his mindset coming to his new team. “That’s what I wanted to do, to put myself in a position to win. I think we’ve really grasped onto the coaches game plan.”
After putting up amazing numbers in between the pipes, including a save percentage of .801 and a GAA of just 10.13, many wonder if Vinc is in consideration for the league-wide MVP award.
“He got our MVP, and we’re one of the top teams in the league,” said co-head coach John Tavares. “He’s definitely going to be at the top of the list for MVP in the league.”
For Buffalo, this game was special. They had a chance to clinch first place in the East Division (and the whole league) in front of their home crowd on “Fan Appreciation Night.”
“It’s an amazing feeling, but the job’s not done,” said Bandits captain Steve Priolo. “Everybody in that locker room knows that. We’re going to have fun, but we’re going to stay focused throughout this whole thing.”
After this game, both teams move on to play one final regular season game before facing each other once again at the Key Bank Center on May 4. Buffalo will take the long trip out to San Diego to face the Seals, while New England will be in Rochester to play the Knighthawks.