The Rochester Knighthawks (2-4) welcome the Buffalo Bandits (3-3) back to the Blue Cross Arena on Saturday February 3 for a 7:30 PM ET faceoff. This marks the second of four installments of the Thruway Rivalry, with the Knighthawks taking the first meeting 21-11 back on December 23.
For Rochester, that was their last victory. After starting the season 2-0 and the offense looking like one of the best in the league, the Knighthawks have dropped four straight games and sit at the bottom of the Eastern Division standings. On Saturday, Rochester has a chance to draw even with the team in front of them in the standings. The Bandits also happen to be the last team Rochester beat.
As for Buffalo, they have yet to win back-to-back games in 2018, but they have an opportunity after handing the Sasketchewan Rush their first loss of the season with a 16-15 victory in overtime on the Rush’s home turf. A win like that can provide confidence and momentum for a team looking to climb the standings after finishing in last place in 2017.
As for firepower, Buffalo has two 30-plus point scorers in Dhane Smith and Mitch Jones. The Knighthawks have yet to have any scorer break the 30-point mark, but Joe Resetarits is only one point off and Cody Jamieson is two.
In goal, statistically it does not matter who is between the pipes for Buffalo as the difference between Alex Buque and Zach Higgins is minute. Buque is averaging 13.53 goals against and a .750 save percentage, while Higgins is averaging 13.57 goals against and a .744 save percentage.
For the Knighthawks, the difference is more stark. However, playing time may play a role in that as backup Angus Goodleaf has only played 46:50 while Matt Vinc has seen the lion’s share of the minutes. Despite the record, Vinc averages 10.73 goals against and has an .800 save percentage versus Goodleaf’s .776 save percentage while he averages 14.09 goals against.
The goaltending stats favor Rochester despite the extra loss. Unless the Knighthawks get the offense clicking, Saturday night should be another low-scoring affair with Vinc in net. However, that does not necessarily favor Rochester. They are 0-3 this season when scoring 10 goals or less. The Bandits have scored 10 goals or less only once (0-1).