From the old proverb by Geoffrey Chaucer, all good things must come to an end.
The Rochester Knighthawks (4-2) defense and the stellar play of superstar goaltender Matt Vinc were the reasons why they earned their 9-6 victory against the Buffalo Bandits (5-2) Saturday night in front of 9,280 fans at the Blue Cross Arena.
The Knighthawks outscored the Bandits 5-0 after the first half and held off a four goal run by the Bandits in the third quarter to come away with the victory this evening.
Those who attended tonight’s game at the Blue Cross Arena were witness to a little piece of Bandits history in the making. For the first time in Buffalo Bandits franchise history, the team was held scoreless through the first half.
The victory by the Knighthawks this evening effectively ended the Bandits’ five game winning streak and reduced the Bandits’ lead in the NLL Eastern Division by just a half-game.
“It’s real difficult to win five games in a row in this league,” Bandits had coach Troy Cordingley said. “Every game is a big game in this league, particularly with teams so evenly matched. We just did not step up today.”
The first quarter began as a very tense affair. Each team was giving it their all and no quarter was given to anyone in terms of scoring chances. Each team’s defense and goaltending units were very tight and incredibly solid. It finally took 10:31 into the first quarter for transition specialist Joe Walters to get the Knighthawks on the scoreboard first with his shorthanded goal.
The Knighthawks offense shifted gears in the second quarter and began to really crank up the heat on the Bandits. Rochester went on a four goal run that lasted the entire second quarter. The first goal was from veteran forward Mike Accursi, two goals from Cory Vitarelli and the last goal was scored by Dan Dawson.
At the half, the Knighthawks held a commanding 5-0 lead and were led the entire way by Knighthawks goaltender Matt Vinc. Vinc was flawless in the first half by turning away all 21 of the Buffalo Bandits shots and holding them scoreless.
Vinc was congratulatory with his team’s defensive effort in that first half.
“They did a great job of limiting the Bandits’ time and space. We really put their ‘O’ guys on their heels and that makes my job a lot easier.”
For the Bandits, the first half was definitely something they wanted to put behind them as quickly as possible.
“The first half was pretty bad,” said Bandits forward Ryan Benesch. “We weren’t moving the ball very well on offense.”
While the Bandits went into the locker room plotting a new direction in their game plan in hopes of a comeback, the Knighthawks were looking toward a second half just as inspired as the first.
In the third quarter, the Bandits finally solved the mystery of Matt Vinc and began their comeback by scoring four unanswered goals.
Mark Steenhuis was the first to get the Bandits on the scoreboard at 8:39 with a bounce shot past Vinc. Ryan Benesch, John Tavares and Joe Resetarits capped off the rest of the scoring for the Bandits to bring them within one goal of the Knighthawks 5-4 lead.
Unfortunately for the Bandits, all of their hard work and effort in trying to catch up on that considerable Knighthawks’ advantage became too strenuous.
The Knighthawks seized back the momentum with a late third quarter power play goal by Cody Jamieson and outscored the Bandits 3-2 for the remainder of the game to seal the deal.
After the game, Bandits head coach Troy Cordingley was disappointed with his team’s performance this evening against the Knighthawks.
“I do not think we were very good for the entire game. We played with a sense of urgency in the third quarter, but they played a good game. This may have brought us back to reality.”
The Bandits will be at home for a 7:30 pm game next Saturday at the First Niagara Center when they face the Philadelphia Wings in a crucial Week 8 rematch.