The Buffalo Bandits six game win streak came to an end Saturday night at the hands of the visiting Georgia Swarm. The home team fell 14-9 in a game that the Bandits seemed to just never be able to get a grasp on.
“They outworked us, and they definitely played a little more desperate,” said Bandits Co-Head Coach Rich Kilgour. “Some nights you’re the hammer, some nights you’re the nail. We’ve been the hammer a lot, tonight we got to be the nail.”
Both teams played solid lacrosse right out of the gate, with the first goal not being scored until almost the three minute mark when Randy Staats (4g,1a) found the back of the net for the Swarm. The teams traded a few goals in a rather low scoring first few minutes, until Georgia strung together a four goal run that seemed to stump Buffalo.
“Lacrosse is a game of runs,” said Bandits forward Chase Fraser. “We just couldn’t get onto ours tonight, and it really showed.”
Buffalo had the distinction of having a back-to-back weekend of games, where Fraser scored the overtime game winning goal in Philadelphia the prior night to defeat the Wings 12-11. The fatigue of playing back-to-back games is a challenge, but Bandits assistant captain Dhane Smith (3g,2a) said that is not an excuse for his team’s performance.
“It’s tough, but every team does it so we can’t make excuses,” said Smith. “Our offense has struggled all of this weekend, and on the powerplay we barely scored.”
The Bandits had nine power play opportunities, and were only able to score twice, while also giving up two shorthanded goals which started the Swarm’s four goal run late in the first quarter. Add in the fact of Georgia’s five goal run between the third and fourth which was kicked off by Lyle Thompson (1g,3a), Georgia just seemed to dominate on both sides of the ball.
Mike Poulin put in a stellar performance between the pipes for the Swarm, stopping 41 of the 50 shots he faced. In general, the whole Swarm defense played at the top of their game. Hard-nosed, physical play pushed Buffalo shooters to the outside giving the Bandits bad-angled shots. They were also able to hold Bandit Shawn Evans from scoring, who is top three in points in the league, and to just four shots on goal.
Buffalo had the opportunity to clinch a playoff berth with two wins this weekend, but with this loss, they will now look ahead to the future. It brings them to 10-3 on the season, with Georgia lurking behind them at 9-4.
Getting a win streak snapped is something no team really wants to happen, but as Smith points out, now is the better time for it.
“We started off hot all season, especially in the beginning of the year,” said Smith. “Now we’re kind of struggling to have those hot starts. But it’s kind of good to see now, rather than when playoffs start.”
The Bandits will look to regroup as they head west on the road to face a tough Saskatchewan Rush team next weekend. Georgia meanwhile will return to Western New York Friday night, this time to face a struggling Rochester Knighthawks squad.