He has aged like a fine wine.
At the age of 40, and the NLL’s all-time leader with over 14,000 regular season minutes in net and almost 10,000 saves in his career, Buffalo Bandits goalie Matt Vinc continues to be one the best netminders in the National Lacrosse League. As the Bandits get ready for Saturday night’s home game against their I-90 rivals in the Rochester Knighthawks at KeyBank Center (7:30pm ET, ESPN+/TSN+), Vinc is leading the league in minutes played, tied for the league lead with six wins, is 6th with a 10.45 goals against average and is tied for third with a save percentage of 80%.
Now in his 17th NLL season, Vinc is still going strong.
“It’s a privilege,” said Vinc, a native of St. Catharines, Ontario who went to Bandits games as a child.
“It’s a great opportunity to be able to do something you love for such a long time and be able to do it so close to home playing in front of great fans especially when your friends and family are able to come on a regular basis to watch you play.”
When he’s not between the pipes for the Bandits, Vinc is a physical education teacher for Denis Morris Catholic High School in St. Catharines. He is also the schools head lacrosse coach and an assistant coach for the hockey team.
Since he’s always around fitness and young athletes, Vinc has been able to stay fit himself for his full-time job and his role as a veteran goalie in the NLL.
“It’s definitely helped me continue to play,” said Vince, an 8-time NLL Goaltender of the Year and a 3-time NLL champion.
“It’s easy to stay motivated in fitness when you’re doing it every single day. Staying fit is definitely a big passion of mine and being physically active on a regular basis. It’s a great opportunity to be able to do that with the younger generation and hopefully you’re going to inspire them along the way.”
Vinc began his NLL career in 2005 when his was a first-round pick (6th overall) by the San Jose Stealth. His NLL journey also took him to eight seasons in Rochester along with stops in Colorado, New York and Orlando. Now in his fourth season in Buffalo, Vinc is happy to be playing close to his St. Catharines, Ontario home and in the city where he went to college at Canisius.
“I think that’s a motivating factor for myself anytime you step on the floor at home games knowing that (family and friends are) cheering you on and you can see them in the stands,” said Vinc. “It’s a great opportunity for me to play in Buffalo and have those memories with my children and my wife and the family.”
As for the game on Saturday, it’s a huge contest for Vinc and the 6-2 Bandits as they hope for a better result against their 6-1 rivals, the Rochester Knighthawks. Back on January 20th in Rochester, the Bandits had a 3-1 lead after one quarter and then an 8-5 edge at halftime but lost to the Knighthawks 15-12.
This time around, the Bandits are hoping for a 60-minute performance and a better result.
“The first time we played them, we let that game get away from us,” said Vinc. “They’re 6-1 for a reason. Early on, they kind of flew under the radar and right now it looks like we’re the underdogs going into this game. They have a great offensive team and they’re going to make us pay if we take a lot of penalties.”
Vinc is very aware of the sports landscape in Buffalo as the city is starving for a championship.
The Bandits have won four MILL/NLL championships, but none since 2008 having gone to the finals in 2016, 2019 and 2022 but coming up short.
The Buffalo Bills football team have been to four Super Bowls but have never hoisted the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
The Buffalo Sabres hockey club has made it to a pair of Stanley Cup Finals but they have never lifted Lord Stanley.
Vinc and the Bandits would like to change history in Buffalo and Western New York.
“It would mean everything,” said Vince. “Going to the finals and coming so close was heartbreak for Buffalo. We gotta be able to bring a championship back to Buffalo. I’ve seen them win in the past as a kid and when I first came in the league, they were successful and I think we have the pieces to do it.”
Matt Vinc has done some amazing things during his NLL career and he continues to play at a high level at the age of 40. He has three championship rings, but it would certainly be a storybook ending to his career if he could lead the Buffalo Bandits to a title and bring so much joy to the region.