By Steve Bermel | NLL.com Staff Writer
Photo Credit Bill Wippert
The Buffalo Bandits (4-5) earned their third win in a row on Friday night, topping the Rochester Knighthawks (3-7) 13-9 in front of 14,475 fans at the KeyBank Center. The I-90 rivals met for the first of three games this season and the Bandits were pleased to continue their winning streak after a sluggish 1-5 start to the season.
“We were hungry and we were battling. Our compete level has improved ten-fold compared to the first six games,” said Bandits head coach Troy Cordingley about the winning run. “Confidence is another thing that coincides with our effort and hunger. We’re willing to put on our work hats and go to work.”
New Bandit Pat Saunders wasted no time in his Buffalo debut, notching an assist on the first goal of the game that was scored by Dhane Smith. Kyle Jackson and Joe Resetarits answered for the Knighthawks before Alex Kedoh Hill netted one and ended the first with the score 2-2.
“Saunders was good for us. We know he can play,” said Cordingley. “He had some good opportunities and he had a few shots that I was surprised didn’t drop.”
Saunders was a top scorer for the New England Black Wolves and was acquired earlier this week in exchange for a 2018 2nd round draft pick.
“It was nice to get out there and get familiar with the guys and even nicer to get the win,” said Saunders. “I thought, as a unit, we performed really well. [Coach] John Tavares said to shoot the ball if I had a good shot. Him having faith in a new guy coming in was big for my confidence.”
Jarrett Davis found the net to open the scoring in the second quarter and gave Rochester a 3-2 lead. Craig England and Saunders responded for Buffalo and gave the Bandits the lead back. Dan Dawson tied the game again at four, but
Saunders and Hill scored and gave Buffalo a 6-4 lead heading into the half.
Jackson scored first in the second half before Buffalo got a three goal run from Mitch de Snoo, Smith and Brad Self. Cory Vitarelli capped the scoring in the third and the home team took a 9-6 lead into the fourth quarter.
Self and Mark Steenhuis scored to start the fourth quarter before goals from Dawson, Dan Lomas and Dawson again trimmed Buffalo’s lead to 11-9 with 5:20 to go. Self stopped the Knighthawks run before Mitch Jones scored his first goal of the game and gave Buffalo a 13-9 lead which they rode to victory.
The Bandits were in control most of the game and were able to get offensive production throughout the lineup.
“We had some moments where we were really good and some moments where the IQ wasn’t as high as it should be, but now we’re fighting out of those situations the way we should,” added said Cordingley. “Guys like Kedoh keep scooping loose balls off the faceoffs and guys like Self keep scoring big goals.”
The Knighthawks were frustrated with another loss and know that some things have to change in order to fight back into the playoff picture.
“There has to be some urgency and it really comes down to execution for us,” said Hawks forward Dan Dawson. “We have another opportunity tomorrow. It’s a quick turnaround but in this league you have to have a quick memory. We’re only halfway through the year and we can turn it around. We have a bunch of guys in the room that care, we just need some more urgency.”
Dawson lead the Knighthawks with seven points (3+4) while Kyle Jackson added five points (2+3) of his own. Smith led the Bandits with seven points (2+5) while Self (3+3) and Hill (2+4) each had six.
These two teams meet again Saturday at 1:00 P.M. EST at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester.
Three stars as selected by the media:
1 – Alex Kedoh Hill
2 – Dan Dawson
3 – Brad Self