Buffalo scores 18 off defending champions, Byrne and Crawford net hat-tricks
After defeating the New England Black Wolves 18-13 just 24 hours prior, the Buffalo Bandits (6-3) returned home to dismantle the defending champion Georgia Swarm (3-4) 18-9 in front of 14,058 fans at KeyBank Center.
Rookie Josh Byrne, who scored five points (3G/2A) on Friday night, showed no sign of being tired. If anything, he became stronger on the second night and recorded six points (3G/3A).
From the opening whistle the Bandits wanted to set the pace and did just that with their transition game. Nick Weiss started the scoring for the Bandits and gave them the early 1-0 lead, but the Swarm’s Alex Crepinsek tied the game just 34 seconds later. A three-goal Bandits run meant that early 1-1 tie was the closest the Swarm would be the rest of the night.
The Bandits went on a six-goal run in the second quarter, during which time defender Ethan Schott scored his first NLL goal, before Randy Staats scored on the power play to stop the run. Callum Crawford scored Buffalo’s seventh goal of the quarter 26 seconds later. The Bandits led 11-4 at the half. Warren Hill, who relieved Mike Poulin in the second quarter, came up with some big saves hoping it would spark the offense.
“We just didn’t execute on offense,” assistant coach Sean Ferris stated in a Swarm press release. “We didn’t execute there, and if you want to talk about defensively, we didn’t play well defensively… We weren’t physical in front of our net, and they had multiple possessions, and we left our goalies out to dry.”
Josh Byrne’s hat-trick goal got the Bandits going again just 24 seconds into the third quarter. Mitch Jones scored at the three-minute mark before Randy Staats stopped the mini-run. Chase Fraser popped one more for the Bandits before the Swarm made a push with two goals to end the quarter, but the Bandits maintained their seven goal lead 14-7.
If the Swarm had any hope of coming back in the game the Bandits destroyed it quickly as they scored twice in the first 94 seconds of the fourth to increase their lead to nine. Buffalo played smart lacrosse the rest of the way by exhausting most, if not all, of the 30 second clock each time down the floor and only taking a shot when a clear one was there.
Josh Byrne and Callum Crawford each had three goals and three assists. Jordan Durston (2G/5A) and Mitch Jones (1G/6A) also led on attack. Buffalo’s offense is on fire as they have now won four games in a row and outscored their opponents 68-51 (17-13). Zach Higgins made 54 saves. Buffalo will return to action on February 24 when they host Rochester.
Lyle Thompson, Jesse King and Randy Staats each scored twice for the Swarm. The Swarm are back in action tonight as they host the struggling Rochester Knighthawks, who have lost six in a row. The Knighthawks are also coming off a Saturday night loss to the Toronto Rock.
Ferris said that playing two games in the weekend, despite fatigue, can be a good thing.
“If not, we’d be lingering on this loss for a whole week, but now that we have to play in 24 hours, we can redeem ourselves… Get a good night’s sleep, travel… and battle at home. Got to get back to 4-4 here.”