The Buffalo Bandits will look to get their second straight win at home, as they welcome fierce East Division rival Rochester Knighthawks to the KeyBank Center Saturday night. The Bandits are of course coming off a huge 16-10 win over Vancouver last week, while the Knighthawks also picked up a win over Philadelphia.
This isn’t just any East Division rivalry game though; it’ll hold a special meaning for the man in between the pipes for Buffalo.
“It’s one of those things you just got to deal with as a player,” said Bandits goaltender Matt Vinc, who spent eight seasons in a Knighthawks jersey. “I have a lot of great friends on that team [Rochester], but when you hit the floor it’s all about wins and losses and I just want to keep this team rolling.”
Vinc capped off last week’s game with his 100th career win, the majority of those came with Rochester where he also hoisted three straight NLL Champion Cups. He will look to be making it 101 when the Knighthawks roll into Buffalo.
The Bandits last week seemed to have proved that there earlier issues of playing a full game may be behind them. The offense led by Josh Byrne and Shawn Evans were able to control the game from the first to the last whistle, coupled with an equally good defensive performance. With a lot of new faces on this Buffalo roster, chemistry and communication problems can be killer, can they put up another well-rounded team performance this week?
It would appear that Buffalo may be missing star forward Dhane Smith for a third week in a row. Smith suffered a lower body injury in Week One, and hasn’t played a game since, however he has practiced with team before finally being placed on injured reserve. Co-Head Coach John Tavares has been able to set the bar though for a Smith-less offense, and the team has seen younger players step up.
The Knighthawks certainly have their work cut out for them this game. They’ve only played one game so far (a 13-9 win over Philadelphia), while Buffalo has had the benefit of playing three. And despite not having Vinc between the pipes anymore, they still have a goaltender in Angus Goodleaf who has spent nearly six years with the team, and knows the Hawks system inside and out. Goodleaf looked like he’d always been a starter with his performance last week against the Wings, he had a shut out after the first quarter, and only allowed in nine on the night.
This will be the first meeting of the two squads for the 2018-2019. Last year, Rochester was able to take the regular season series 2-1, those two wins coming however by one goal margins.
Game time is set for 7:30pm EST at 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.