For the way the Vancouver Warriors had been playing the past couple of games, it was surprising to see how lopsided the 15-8 loss in Rogers Arena was against the now 6-1 Buffalo Bandits.
Following their two-game win streak, the Warriors were poised to keep the momentum going, but the Bandits (and some untimely crease violations) helped bring whatever was there to a quick stop… at least for the moment.
The Warriors started the game off on the right foot and looked to have goals on two separate occasions, but they were both taken off the board after it was deemed that the Warriors forwards were in the crease and then were met with a strong Bandits response.
Yet, even when the Warriors tied the game 4-4 early in the second quarter, the Bandits promptly took over. After an extended run from the beginning of the second quarter through half of the third quarter, the Bandits had a commanding 11-5 lead. According to Warriors forward and former Bandit Mitch Jones, the responsibility falls on his team for allowing that to happen.
“Not to take anything away from them, but there were a lot of mistakes out there,” Jones said. “It starts with our leadership group; there were a lot of mistakes that we were making. We had those two games stepping forward, and I think it was kind of a one step forward, two steps back tonight. The good news is that we’re back at it this weekend, so hopefully, it’s a blip on our radar, but we’ll see.”
When the Warriors did make a run in an attempt to claw back into the game, the home side bit themselves in the foot by allowing penalty after penalty in the fourth quarter. As Warriors Head Coach Chris Gill put it, playing down a man for as long as they did is going to make it difficult to win any games.
“We took about 7,000 minutes in penalties,” Gill said. “When you’re short-handed for the entire quarter, you’re asking your goalie and your short-man [unit] to do a lot of work.”
“That’s on us. That’s not the way our team plays.”
Despite the fact that the Warriors had fewer goals, loose balls, power play opportunities and shots on goal, and were handily defeated tonight on their home floor, the team understand they need to have a short memory to be ready for their game against Rochester on Sunday afternoon.
“The bottom line is we have to get rid of it and go focus on Rochester right now,” Gill said. “We’ll get a good night’s sleep and get some prep in tomorrow. Rochester’s in our way right now, and we need to get a win.”
With the loss against the Bandits, the Warriors drop to 3-5 on the season. If they lose a second game this weekend and fall to 3-6, their playoff chances drop off significantly, even at the half-way mark of the campaign. Not that it’s a must-win match for this team, but bouncing back from two haymakers in quick succession is a tough task for even the most resilient warrior.