Rochester and Buffalo are separated by exactly 73.9 miles. That is 1 hour and 15 minutes on the New York State Thruway if you are going East or West on it. While both cities love the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres the two cities cannot be more different. First, Rochester is located on the coast of Lake Ontario, and Buffalo being located on the coast of Lake Erie. Second, is food related with Rochester having the garbage plate and Buffalo who can claim their city invented wings. Third, Rochester has the Red Wings while Buffalo has the Bisons (Buffalo wants to forget Kyle Williams wearing a Rochester Plates hat). Finally, Rochester has the Knighthawks while Buffalo has the Bandits. These two teams have been bitter arch-rivals since both teams were formed in the 90’s. They played in their first matchup of the season at KeyBank Center in Buffalo on Saturday night.
The Knighthawks started off very slow and played very sloppy in the first quarter and were never able to recover from it. Turnovers and penalties helped the Bandits jump out to a quick 2-0 lead with goals coming from forward Dhane Smith and a power-play goal coming from forward Shawn Evans. Darryl Robertson in his Knighthawks debut scored at the 7:55 mark in the 1st to make it 2-1. That would be the closest the Knighthawks would be for the rest of the night and by the end of the 1st it was 3-1 in favor of the Bandits.
While the 2nd quarter was slow for both teams with Rochester scoring only 1 goal and Buffalo with 2, The 2nd quarter was almost a mirror image of the 1st for Rochester with the Knighthawks committing penalties and turnovers to slow them down and the Bandits capitalizing on Rochester’s mistakes.
Goals in the 2nd quarter coming from Knighthawks forward Cory Vitarelli and for the Bandits, forward Corey Small and defensemen Steve Priolo both scored to make it 5-2 at halftime in favor of Buffalo.
The 3rd quarter was a track meet for Buffalo. The Bandits showed off their speed while they scored 5 goals and the Knighthawks were only able to score 1 goal again coming by forward Kyle Jackson. With the score going into the 4th being 10-3 it was going to take a miracle for Rochester to comeback.
There would be no comeback for the Knighthawks because their former goalie Matt Vinc was a brick wall in goal for the Bandits. Vinc who won 3 championships and 5 Goalie of the Year Awards with the Knighthawks, saw a total of 59 shots tonight from the Knighthawks and saved 55 of them. This marks the 3rd time in NLL history that a goalie allowed 4 goals or fewer in a game. Vinc also became the NLL All-Time Saves Leader passing his goalie coach Anthony Cosmo for most all time.
The Bandits (3-1) would go on to win the game 13-4. Next up for the Knighthawks (1-1) is a trip to the West Coast to play the new expansion team the San Diego Seals next week on Saturday, January 12th. The next time the Knighthawks and Bandits play will be January 26th, in Rochester at Blue Cross Arena.
Three Stars of the Game as chosen by the media:
- Matt Vinc (Bandits)
- Steve Priolo (Bandits)
- Dhane Smith (Bandits)