In a clash between two of the top teams in the East Division, what was expected to be a tight contest became incredibly one-sided very quickly.
The Buffalo Bandits (7-2) prevented the Georgia Swarm (7-3) from scoring in the first quarter before rattling off 12 goals in the middle two quarters for a strong 19-9 win in Infinite Energy Arena on Saturday.
For the Swarm, nothing seemed to be working on either end of the floor, which team captain Jordan MacIntosh pointed out.
“Everywhere, I think,” he said. “Offensively, we struggled. They blocked a lot of shots on net. That kind of gets us out of our rhythm. We didn’t get a lot of shots on net. When we were getting shots on net, we had some goals. But, defensively, hung our goalies out to dry a little bit.”
“’Dominated’ would be the word,” Swarm head coach Ed Comeau said when asked to sum up the night in one word. “They (the Bandits) dominated us in every facet of the game. They outworked us, out-loose-balled us, everything. Full credit, they played with energy right from the beginning, a lot of multiple possessions, loose balls, a lot of things we talked about that we didn’t want them to execute, they did. In this league, if you don’t show up and play, that’s the result you get.”
After not scoring for the first 15 minutes and finding themselves down 3-0, the Swarm used a fast break from Connor Sellars to get on the board. Bandits captain Steve Priolo responded with his second goal of the game. Zed Williams halved the Bandits’ lead, and Lyle Thompson scored on a penalty shot, putting the Swarm within a goal, 4-3.
It would be the smallest gap all night as the Bandits took off easily. Corey Small bookended the last six goals of the quarter, five of which were from the Bandits. Williams broke that up with his second goal of the night, but the Swarm were still down 9-4 at halftime.
“Their defense played really well, and they blocked a whole ton of shots,” Comeau said. “At the end of the day, we’ve got to find ways to counteract that, and we didn’t tonight. They had no reason to adjust, because we didn’t do anything to make them adjust.”
Thomas Hoggarth kicked off the final 30 minutes with his hat trick goal, and the Bandits rattled off four more goals and put themselves up 14-4. Swarm goaltender Mike Poulin was replaced by Kevin Orleman after the twelfth goal, a power play marker from Shawn Evans.
Shayne Jackson finally staunched the bleeding after receiving a zig-zag pass for the Swarm’s fifth goal of the night. Small had the last word, ending the third quarter with the Bandits up 15-5.
Both teams traded goals in the fourth quarter, scoring four apiece. The Swarm did not seem able to gain any momentum to put a significant dent into the Bandits’ lead, ultimately falling 19-9.
Orleman played for 24:53 min. and make 17 saves on 24 SOG. He finished with a 16.88 GAA and a .708 SV%. Poulin spent 35:07 min. and made 34 saves on 46 SOG. He posted a 20.50 GAA and a .739 SV%.
“I don’t think we offered any support to either of our goalies tonight, and in this league, when you give shooters time and space either inside or outside, they’re going to score goals,” Comeau said.
For the Bandits, Dhane Smith quietly led the team with 11 points, all assists. Evans was a close second with 10 points (4G, 6A), and Small posted seven points (5G, 2A). Matt Vinc earned the win after allowing only nine goals against and finished with a .780 SV%.
Despite the harsh defeat, the Swarm are still 7-3, and that positive note is something they have to relish in a night where not much went right for them.
“We played ten (games) in a row, two back-to-backs,” MacIntosh said. “We have one more next weekend. We need to right the ship, go into the bye (week) with a win. I think going in at 8-3, we’ll be feeling good, not great, but we’re going to a place that’s not easy to play in with one of the best goalies in the league, really solid offense, great defense. So, it’s going to be a challenge, but hopefully we can step up and show what we’re really all about, unlike tonight.”
The Swarm pack up and head to Pepsi Center to take on the Colorado Mammoth (2-5) on Saturday, Feb. 16. Faceoff is set for 9:00 p.m. ET.
The Bandits return home that same day and welcome the Calgary Roughnecks (5-4) to KeyBank Center. Faceoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ET.
Fans can catch both games on the B/R Live app available through iTunes, Google Play, Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire.