The Buffalo Bandits will play host to the New England Black Wolves Saturday night at the KeyBank Center. With only two games left for Buffalo, and standing at the top of the East with a 12-4 record, this game (along with next week’s San Diego matchup) is big as the Bandits are ready for the postseason.
This is just the second meeting for these two teams. Back in January, the Bandits travelled to Mohegan Sun Arena to take on the Black Wolves. Buffalo was able to control the game whistle to whistle to pick up the divisional win over New England, 15-5. The game was a notable one for Bandits forward Dhane Smith, who put up 11 points (2g,9a) on the score sheet.
Since that January 27th game it’s been a wild ride for the Bandits. They’ve been able to play team-ball, and make sure everyone on the roster contributes, not just top ten NLL point-getters Smith, and Shawn Evans.
Buffalo has shown promise with their roster depth. When injuries brought Smith and Josh Byrne out for extended periods of time, guys like Thomas Hoggarth and Chase Fraser stepped in and helped fill roles when needed.
New England comes into this game with just one win in their last five, with that win coming at home against San Diego, 17-14. Obviously in somewhat of a slump, this contest will definitely prove vital for the Black Wolves as they head into the postseason. We could very well see these two teams battle it out once again at KeyBank Center in the first round if things roll the Bandits way standings-wise.
Last week, New England fell short in a valiant comeback effort against Toronto 12-11. Callum Crawford led the way with four goals, but despite a valiant effort, New England just couldn’t push past Toronto before the final buzzer. It was a similar tale for Buffalo in their matchup against the Rock, where they fell in a game of runs (in overtime), 12-11 also.
Both these teams will be looking to bounce back after heartbreaking road losses in Toronto. For New England, this is a chance to get a vital win under their belt before the playoffs start, and to get a new feel for a possible first round opponent they haven’t played against in three months. Buffalo can clinch the top seed in the East with either two wins (vs. New England, and next week at San Diego), or a win in this one and a Georgia loss.