The 3-1 Buffalo Bandits will look to resume their play off right, as they host the Philadelphia Wings at the KeyBank Center following a bye-week. Before their short break, the orange and black had a dominating performance over Eastern rival Rochester Knighthawks which saw them grab a 13-4 victory in front of the hometown crowd. They’ll look to keep that pace going against the 0-4 Wings.
This will be the final game of a four game homestand the Bandits have been on since their Week 2 loss to the Toronto Rock on December 21st. Since then, the Bandits coaching staff led by Rich Kilgour and John Tavares have been hard at work improving performances on both sides of the ball. That effort culminated in what fans witnessed last home game, but Kilgour admits it wouldn’t have been possible without veteran players stepping up.
“After those first two games and we gave up all those goals, and we had to make a change,” said Kilgour. “I was being a little stubborn myself, so I had to check myself at the door and change up the D a little, and the guys really responded.”
Bandits defenseman and captain Steve Priolo was one of those guys.
“He [Priolo] was one of the big ones who mentioned ‘maybe we should try this, or do this’,” said Kilgour. “I kind of fought him on it for a week, but I came to my senses. And you know what? He was right.”
This upcoming game will mark star forward Dhane Smith’s second game back in action. Smith suffered a lower body injury when Buffalo was in Philadelphia in Week One. He missed several games as a result, but since being back has scored four points (2g,2a). He is a landmark of this Bandits offense, and will look to tear up the 0-4 Wings defense.
One of the few good things to come out of Smith missing action is that it allowed other players and offensive pairings to step up. Shaw Evans and Josh Byrne seem to be working well and feeding off each other. In Week Three’s matchup against the Warriors, Byrne and Evans combined for 21 points, many of those assisting off the other’s goals.
This is not the first meeting for these two clubs this season, they faced-off in Week One, where the Bandits prevailed with a 17-15 win. However, both teams have made significant changes since that game, both in on-field strategy and on the roster. The latter of which should prove a Godsend for the Wings, as they acquired Kevin Crowley in a trade with New England. Crowley was one of the faces of the Philadelphia franchise before their relocation to New England, and it seemed like he was determined to hold-out until he was back in the red and black.
Crowley has seen one game of action so far since being acquired, in last week’s 13-11 loss to Georgia. He was able to put four points (2g,2a) on the board, and despite the loss, the game proved that the Wings as a whole can go toe-toe with some of the best offensive players on the Swarm that the NLL has to offer.
Gametime for this matchup is set for this Saturday at 7:30pm from the KeyBank Center in downtown Buffalo. It 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.