The Buffalo Bandits (4-4) will travel to Rochester to take on the Knighthawks (4-3) for the third and final time of the season. These to foes played against each other last week as well (except in Buffalo) where the Knighthawks managed some late game heroics to get the comeback win. Will we see the same result in this matchup? Or will the Bandits overcome their struggles and get the vital win? Remember, if the Bandits win this game they move up to second, but if the Hawks win, they will get one more game on the Bandits and get some distance between them and third place.
The Bandits need to make some rather basic changes to their game if thy want to win this one. I’ve noticed a lot that the offense seems to take a lot of shots from the outside, and early in the game it works and they get sharpshooter goals. However I think this is more of them getting lucky and surprising the opposing goalie/defense because no one expects an opposing offense (from a defensive standpoint) to take as many outside shots as the Bandits do. However after a little bit, the opposition realizes this and plays defense a little higher up and more aggressive, all but eliminating the success of outside shots going into the back of the net. The smart thing would be to switch it up and go back to the basics of cutting through the middle and setting pick and rolls. Guys like Brandon Goodwin and Jerome Thompson were brought in mainly for this; cutting through the middle, opening up space for high point getters like Benesch and Dhane Smith. These tactics need to work, because if they resort to their old ways, its going to end up in the same result, and that is in the form of a loss.
I think right now Rochester is the favorite to win this game. They’re offense is really starting to click after some early season struggles, guys like Cody Jamieson, Dan Dawson, Craig Point, etc. are putting up big numbers in the points category. With the addition of Stephen Keogh back into the lineup, the offense is purely stacked. You add in a gritty/physical offenseman like Joel Matthews, it intimidates a lot of opposing teams. Matt Vinc also seems to be in his MVP form again, but if the Bandits offense starts to get to him, the team has confidence in backup goalie Angus Goodleaf to come in and save the game; which is what we saw last time the Bandits travelled to the BCA.
Taking all things in to consideration, I think this will be another close game that will come down to the wire. The Hawks will probably jump out to an early lead, leading somewhere around 7-4 at halftime, but they’ll see a collapse in the third quarter where the Bandits will jump out to take the lead at about 12-8. From there on out, I think the Bandits will fall flat offensive wise, but the defense and Cosmo will stand on their head to try to keep the lead intact. This game in my opinion can go either way, but I think the winning team will win either 15-14 or 14-13, around there.