It was 90’s throwback night at Rogers Arena as the Vancouver Warriors hosted the Buffalo Bandits on Friday night. The fans came dressed in an array of graphic t-shirts, neon, flannel and low-rise sneakers. Britney, the Backstreet Boys and Will Smith all had cameos on the jumbotron. And after the first quarter the hometown Warriors wished that they could also turn back time.
Coming into the game both teams were on winning streaks. Vancouver had won two in a row while Buffalo was riding a four-game win streak. It was the Bandits who extended their success, winning Friday night’s game with conviction and handing the Vancouver Warriors a 15-8 loss. The win marked Buffalo’s largest margin of victory on the season and improved the Bandits to 6-1, tying them with Halifax for first in the NLL. The Warriors have now fallen to 3-5 after the loss.
Despite opening the scoring at Rogers Arena, the Warriors’ momentum was sucked away within the first three minutes of the first quarter as two goals were overturned on video review calls. Instead of being up 3-0 to start the game, the Warriors had a one-goal lead which quickly disappeared. Buffalo’s offence was clicking on all cylinders and managed to outshoot their opponents 58-42 on the night.
“They outworked us,” said Warriors head coach Chris Gill after the game. “They had the possession a whole lot. Kind of put us behind the eight ball.”
The first star of the game was awarded to Buffalo’s Chris Cloutier who scored two goals to go along with four assists. The second star went to Cloutier’s teammate Corey Small who scored a hat trick and chipped in two assists. The Warriors’ Mitch Jones, who formerly played for the Bandits, was handed the third star of the game for his six-point performance.
Jones spoke after the game about his former team.
“That’s a good team, a team full of shooters. They’re fast, athletic, and have a good goaltender.”
One bright spot for the Warriors was Lyndon Bunio scoring his first NLL goal. However, Warriors’ captain Matt Beers played an extremely undisciplined game, racking up a total of 33 penalty minutes. This included a whopping 27 penalty minutes assessed to him on a single play including two game misconducts.
Next up: The Warriors travel to Rochester to take on the Knighthawks while the Bandits also head east to play the Rock in Toronto. Both games will take place this Sunday afternoon.