The Buffalo Bandits were looking to make it six straight home victories heading into their week 12 showdown Saturday night with the Colorado Mammoth.
The Bandits (8-2) were able to close the game out with a 3-1 run late in the fourth quarter to come away with the 12-9 victory over the Colorado Mammoth (5-8) in front of 15,445 fans at the First Niagara Center.
This evening, the Bandits secured the victory with a stunning combination of an incredibly fast and effective transition game, another solid outing in net by goaltender Anthony Cosmo and a 5-0 goal run to begin the game.
Chad Culp went coast to coast and netted his 400th career point with a goal to open up the scoring for the Bandits at the 1:01 mark of the first quarter. John Tavares scored his first goal of the game at 9:46 to give the Bandits the 2-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Cosmo stopped all 10 Mammoth shots in the first quarter while Mammoth goaltender Dillon Ward went 13 for 15.
The momentum generated by the Bandits in the first quarter continued on into the second quarter when Dhane Smith found an open Joe Resetarits at the edge of the crease for a quick stick past Mammoth goaltender Ward to give the Bandits the 3-0 lead just 22 seconds into the second quarter.
Less than one minute later, Bandits defenseman Steve Priolo had himself the highlight of the game. With the Bandits shorthanded, Priolo recovered the loose ball, spun away from two Mammoth defenders and went end to end for the Bandits’ fourth goal of the game.
The luck of the Irish came up triple fives this evening as the Bandits’ fifth goal came at the five minute mark of the second quarter from who else… number five Joe Resetarits.
Dhane Smith was able to find Resetarits on the doorstep with four seconds remaining in the shot clock and Resetarits jumped cross-crease and blast the ball past Ward as the shot clock expired.
“I cut off ball and create space for myself,” Resetarits said. “With that left side of ours, when you have to be open they’ll put it in your stick. Dhane found me twice in a row and gave me two great looks.”
Resetarits ended the game with two goals, four assists and earned first star honors from the media.
Resetarits was impressed with the Bandits first half offensive performance stating “Our offense jelled really well. We’ve been getting a lot of resets and wearing down defenses. We Won that game 5-on-5.”
The Mammoth finally got on the scoreboard at the 9:40 mark of the second quarter when Mammoth forward John Grant Jr. scored on the power play.
Grant Jr. also had himself a very good night with four goals, two assists and the game’s second star but ultimately resulted in the losing effort.
The Mammoth would continue the sway of momentum by receiving a pair of goals from Joel Dalgarno trying to close in on the Bandits lead at 5-3.
Bandits forward Ryan Benesch would score the final goal for the Bandits in the second quarter at 14:38 by beating Ward over the shoulder to extinguish the Mammoth run and give the Bandits the 6-3 lead at halftime.
Bandits head coach Troy Cordingley credited his team’s strong effort in the first half as the main reason for the win tonight.
“I thought we were outstanding in the first half defensively,” said Cordingley. “I thought we did an amazing job by controlling their offense and forcing them to play faster.”
At the half, Cosmo stopped 21 of 24 shots while Ward stopped 19 of 25.
With :33 seconds gone into the beginning of the third quarter, Bandits forward Mark Steenhuis bounced a shot past Ward to continue the Bandits’ momentum swing from Benesch’s late second quarter goal.
Less than a minute later, Grant Jr. stole the momentum away from the Bandits with a goal of his own past Cosmo to make it a 7-4 game early into the third quarter.
One of the game’s major turning points took place during the middle of the third quarter when the Bandits Dhane Smith and Mammoth’s Sean Pollock were working hard for the loose ball and Pollock ended up crashing into the boards and Smith received the five minute major boarding call.
The Mammoth took advantage of the major penalty to Smith by going on a 3-0 run late in the third quarter on a goal from Athan Iannucci and a pair of goals from Grant Jr. The 3-0 run by the Mammoth tied the game at 7-7 all with 1:04 remaining in the third quarter.
Tavares showed once again why he is captain clutch when he ended the Mammoth run at 14:58 by a rocket shot short side against Ward giving the Bandits the 8-7 lead heading into the final quarter.
After the game, Bandits head coach Troy Cordingley reflected on the legacy of his team’s captain. “John’s been doing this his entire career and that’s why he’s a legend. It was just another big goal from him that eventually slows down the momentum of the game (for the opposing team).”
Ryan Benesch carried the momentum from Tavares’ late third period goal into the fourth quarter with his second goal of the game at the :42 mark of the fourth quarter.
The Mammoth would soon answer back with Joel Dalgarno’s third goal of the game on the power play. Unfortunately, it was too little too late for the Mammoth as the Bandits finished the game on a 3-1 run of their own with the game winner from Shawn Williams and two more from Mark Steenhuis to secure the 12-9 win.
Cosmo stopped 45-of-54 shots for his eighth win this season while Ward went 38-of-51.
Buffalo’s next game will be on the road next Friday March 21st for a 9:30p game with the undefeated Edmonton Rush at Rexall Place.