The Buffalo Bandits will return home to KeyBank Center Saturday night to host the Colorado Mammoth. This will be the first and only meeting of these two clubs for the 2018-2019 regular season, so the intensity on the floor should be a real battle.
Buffalo is coming off a road heavy schedule last week. They were in Rochester last Saturday night where they had an all-around sloppy performance which saw them fall to the Knighthawks 18-13. They then had a quick turn around to travel to New England to face-off against the Blackwolves. The Bandits fared much better in that contest, redeeming themselves heavily and getting 15-5 win over the Blackwolves. In that one Corey Small and Shawn Evans both had huge games, with Small burying four goals and adding three assists. Evans did not find the back of the net that night, but contributed with six assists, continuing his pace to set a new single-season assists records.
The Mammoth come into this contest on shaky ground being 1-5, and they’ve had a home heavy schedule, having only played one away game so far. Their lone win comes from a January 20th game against Calgary, where they won 12-7. Last week, they lost in overtime against Vancouver, so they might be starting to click with an improved performance.
Mammoth points leader Ryan Benesch will be looking to have a big game. The 34-year old forward from Kitchener, Ontario played four seasons for the Bandits until he was dealt to the Mammoth before the 2018 season. He has 25 points on the season so far, and doesn’t seem to be slowing down, giving a six point (2g,4a) in last week’s overtime loss.
For the Bandits, this will be a game where they look to break out of the pack. They stand at tied for second in the East at 5-2 with Georgia, and a win in this one would really help their climb up the ladder in a packed East division.
The Bandits will look to Matt Vinc to backstop them to a win in this contest. The former multi-Goaltender of the Year has had a few hiccups in adjusting to a new surrounding in Buffalo, as seen in last Saturday’s game against his former team in Rochester. Vinc does have a substantial lead in saves over Dillion Ward, his opponent in net for this game. Vinc has put up 266 saves (en route to breaking the all-time saves record) while Ward has managed only 177 saves. Vinc also edges out Ward in save percentage with .796% to Ward’s .773%. No doubt it will be a battle for both goalkeepers in this one.
The Bandits will again continue to look to veteran Shawn Evans for offensive help. The 14-year pro is in his first full season for the Bandits, and while fellow Bandits Thomas Hoggarth and Corey Small are ahead of Evans in the goal column; Evans biggest threat on the floor has been setting up the goals, assists. With 36 assists so far, he is well on his way to breaking Mark Matthews’ previous single season record of 88. His chemistry on the floor to setup plays with the likes of Hoggarth, Small, and Josh Byrne to name a few have been a major asset to the orange and black, and something Colorado needs to look out for.
Gametime for this matchup is set for 7:30pm EST, and will have a special theme behind it. The Bandits are hosting the game as “Tucker Out Lymphoma Night,” which as become an annual celebration of the life and legacy of Tucker Williams, the son of former-Bandits forward and current Mammoth assistant coach Shawn Williams. Tucker passed away after his battle with lymphoma in 2014, and the Bandits will wear special jerseys on Saturday to be auctioned off, with proceeds going towards centers for pediatric cancer. The game 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.