Saturday night the Buffalo Bandits (6-3) welcomed their interstate rival Rochester Knighthawks (4-6) into Keybank Centre for their third matchup of the season. With the regular season series between these two teams tied at one game each, it was the Knighthawks who came out on top with a score of 17 to 10.
Coming off a monumental 18-9 win over the Georgia Swarm and head coach Troy Cordingley’s 101st win, the Bandits opened with a heartfelt celebration of both present and past with a moment of silence for former Bandit Ray Guze, who passed away on Thursday. It was the Bandits’ annual alumni night so it was a special night all around.
The Bandits of today dawned their throwback uniforms as they honored the previous 242 players who came before them. Starting between the pipes wearing that jersey was Alex Buque, who got the nod over Zach Higgins, who posted a stellar performance in his last outing against the Swarm.
After both teams exchanged their fair share of shots on goal and lucky bounces off the posts, the Knighthawks found the back of the net first after a sidewinding shot by Cody Jamieson beat the right leg of Buque to put the Knighthawks up 1-0 with seven minutes left to play in the first quarter. Moments later, Austin Shanks converted a cross-crease pass from Jamieson to put the Knighthawks up by two.
Josh Currier put the Knighthawks up 3-0 after the first, and after they scored the first two goals of the second quarter in under two minutes, Buque was pulled in favour of Higgins. The Knighthawks got two more for a 7-0 score before Mitch Jones was able to get the Bandits on the board at 9:48. That goal breathed some life into Buffalo and they managed three more in the frame but still trailed 11-4 at halftime.
The third quarter was just as haunting for the Bandits as the Knighthawks picked up two early quarter goals to make it a nine-goal game just two minutes into the frame. Back-to-back goals by Jordan Durston nibbled at the lead but ultimately the Knighthawks would go into the fourth quarter up 15-9.
The fourth seemed to be when the Bandits stumbled out of their funk and were able to score four including the last three in a row but the momentum just didn’t come soon enough.
Joe Resetarits led the Knighthawks with an incredible 14 points which included three goals and 11 assists. Kyle Jackson also had a statement game with five goals and four assists. Matt Vinc made 43 saves in the win.
With the win, the Knighthawks improve to 2-1 in their interstate showdown with the Bandits and 5-6 on the season. The deadly offense and defense mixture found in the Georgia-Buffalo game was nowhere in sight for the Bandits, who were bested on both sides of the ball. This, accompanied by some poor decision making, some untimely penalties and bad bounces cost them this one.
The next time these teams face each other will be on April 28th back at KeyBank Centre. But until then, the Bandits will look to make adjustments quickly, find out what went wrong and move on as they prep to take on the Colorado Mammoth on March 3rd at Pepsi Center while the Knighthawks will take their 3rd straight win back home as they host the Georgia Swarm on March 10th.