NLL: Rookies lead Bandits to win

After falling 20-7 to the Buffalo Bandits last weekend, the New England Black Wolves really wanted to exact their revenge this weekend at Buffalo’s KeyBank Center. But Bandits’ rookie Josh Bryne had his own plans.

Bryne’s four goals lifted Buffalo (8-7) to a 14-11 victory over the Black Wolves (6-8) on Saturday night. The win bolstered the Bandits to a tie for first place in the East with the postseason just around the corner.

But while Bryne’s continued dominance led the scoresheet, it was the physical abilities of fellow rookie Chase Fraser that wowed Buffalo fans. Fraser netted his own hat trick in his first game action in over a month, doing so in his trademark flashy manner.

“He’s been positive and nothing but team,” said Bandits head coach Troy Cordingley to “And tonight, he was rewarded.”

Dhane Smith netted Buffalo’s first goal just under two minutes into the game, and Fraser scored on the resulting faceoff. The Bandits’ dominance resulted in a 5-0 lead late in the first quarter. Kevin Crowley scored twice in the frame’s closing minutes to get the Black Wolves on the board.

Some back-and-forth play marked the second quarter, and Crowley’s fourth goal of the first half tied the game for New England. But Bryne pushed the Bandits into the lead with just seconds left before halftime.

Alex Buque continued his strong play in net for Buffalo in the third quarter, spurning every Black Wolves’ shot he faced to keep them off the board. He eventually would end the night with 54 saves. But it wasn’t like the offense was clicking much for the Bandits in the frame either. They could only muster one goal, an acrobatic Fraser laser, to extend their lead going into the fourth.

New England’s Crowley and Kevin Buchanan opened up the final frame with tallies that knotted the score at nine, but Bryne scored shortly after to break the Bandits’ lead back open. Buffalo would score three more in the final minutes to put an exclamation point on the victory.

Crowley continued his league-leading scoring pace with five goals on the evening, while Black Wolves’ goaltender Aaron Bold made 54 saves in the loss.