The Buffalo Bandits (6-3) are looking to regain their footing as they welcome North Division rival Halifax (7-2) to the Key Bank Center Saturday night. The Bandits have dropped their last two games, but a win in front of the home crowd over the Thunderbirds could put them tied for first in the division depending how things shake out around the league.
Halifax and Buffalo have met only once so far in the season. It was all the way back on December 28th, the Bandits just second game of the season. The T-Birds rolled out of Buffalo with the 15-10 win, but a lot has happened to both teams since then.
It’s been two weeks since the Bandits last took the floor against an opposing team. It was a close affair that ultimately went the way of the Philadelphia Wings at 7-6. Buffalo’s defensive prowess was on display as key pieces in the Bandits offense were missing with Dhane Smith and Chase Fraser on the sidelines. The offense needed guys to step up considering the losses, and to their credit managed to put 50 shots on Zach Higgins, but ultimately they could not find the back of the net.
It is unclear if Smith and Fraser could return to the lineup for this Halifax matchup, but it seems the Buffalo front office has taken note of that and made some tactical moves. Buffalo sent Dallas Bridle and the injured Thomas Hoggarth (as well as some picks) to Rochester in exchange for Frankie Brown and Dan Lintner. Lintner will add some shiftiness to the offense, and improves Buffalo’s depth at forward. The Courtice, ON native has racked up 124 points (67g,57a) in 62 career games and will find himself complementing Fraser and Smith on that righty side once they return. Brown on the other hand adds some size and grit to Buffalo’s backend, while also being a threat in transition. The Western New York-native has bounced between a few teams in his three seasons in the NLL, his most productive being in Philadelphia in 2019 when he snagged 36 loose balls and caused six turnovers while also picking up 12 points (6g,6a) in transition. They’re welcomed additions to a Bandits club that has bit somewhat of an injury bug with Priolo, Weiss, Fraser, and Smith all missing some action so far.
The biggest obstacle facing Halifax in this matchup is the fact that they will be without one of the centerpieces of their offense in Cody Jamieson. “Jammer” received a one game suspension following the match penalty he was assessed in the T-Birds last outing against Toronto. He will no doubt be missed on the floor, but Halifax has the depth with the likes of Ryan Benesch and Mike Burke to find the back of the net in his absence.
Before you can even find that offensive success though, you need to win possession of the ball, and the Thunderbirds sure have a knack for doing that after most whistles. Jake Withers went 22 for 28 on faceoffs the last time he was in Buffalo, and considering the struggles the Bandits have continued to have in that area since then, he is poised to have a repeat.
Between the pipes, neither team is really facing an overwhelming disadvantage. Halifax netminder Warren Hill is averaging a .812 save percentage while Matt Vinc is right behind him at .800. These are two strong goaltenders with some great defenses in front to complement them.
Faceoff is set for 7pm ET from the Key Bank Center in 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.