Bandits Get Second Win in as Many Weeks over Blazers
The second meeting between the Boston Blazers and the Buffalo Bandits was similar to their first meeting—a tight battle for 60 minutes and a Bandits win.
In a game in which neither squad could grab anything larger than a two-goal lead, veteran John Tavares stepped up for Buffalo and scored with 2:12 left in the game. The goal proved to be the game-winner as the Bandits defeated the Blazers 12-10 on Friday at HSBC Arena in Buffalo.
Tavares finished with four goals and two assists and was named game MVP.
"I was actually tripping on the play, I stubbed my toe on the turf and made it look like I was diving," Tavares said. "I saw the goalie falling with me, so I just put it back short-side."
Boston had a chance to score late, but the Buffalo defense made a brick wall in front of goaltender Mike Thompson as they blocked the incoming Blazers shot. After the shot, Scott Self picked up the loose ball, tossed to Tom Montour who buried it into the Boston empty net with eight second left to seal the win for Buffalo.
"[It is] pretty nerve-wracking when you get down to the last two minutes," Montour said of the final Boston offensive sequence. "When they got the ball, we figured we'd pack it in and hopefully one of us will block it."
After winning four in a row, Boston’s two losses to Buffalo the last two weeks drops them to 6-5 overall and to third place in the East, half a game ahead of 5-5 Rochester.
Even though his team lost, Blazers head coach Matt Sawyer was pleased with how his squad responded after the Bandits scored.
"We showed some good character and every time Buffalo scored, we answered back," Sawyer said. "The games are so tight, especially in the East, the teams are so strong."
Sawyer can also be happy with how Boston’s “Big Three” played as Dan Dawson finished with one goal and six assists, Josh Sanderson finished with two goals and three assists and Casey Powell finished with two goals and four assists. In fact, at least one of Boston’s “Big Three” finished with a point in all 10 Blazers goals.
Boston will have one more chance to get a victory over Buffalo when the two teams meet on April 16 in Buffalo. Until then, both clubs will continue their chase of Toronto for first place in the NLL Eastern Division.
Both teams will have a week off until their next game. Boston will travel to Everett, Washington to face the Stealth at 11 p.m. EDT on March 25 while Buffalo will play at Minnesota at 2 p.m. EDT on March 27.
Roughnecks Take Season Series over Stealth, Extend Lead in West
Going into the season, many people figured it would be the defending NLL champion Washington Stealth that would sit atop the Western Division standings at Week 10. Instead it’s the Calgary Roughnecks that are still reigning supreme.
The Roughnecks extended their West lead to one-and-a-half games after a dominant 17-13 win over the Stealth on Saturday at Comcast Arena in Everett, Washington.
Calgary’s victory also gives them the season series victory over Washington, which may come into play if the Stealth can go on a run late in the season.
“It's fantastic, you know, anytime you can get that opportunity to get yourself ahead in the standings and secure home playoff dates in case there is a tie, that is a phenomenal achievement," said Calgary head coach Dave Pym on the weekend win.
Luke Wiles finished with four goals and one assist and Rhys Duch finished with a six-point night (two goals and four assists) for Washington, but neither could really spark a Stealth offense that looked bland on the field.
"It seemed like we didn't come to play with grit and determination tonight," said Washington head coach Chris Hall. "[We] played as if the victory was simply going to get handed to us."
Coming into the game, the Stealth were on a two-game winning streak in which they outscored their opponents by a margin of 38-17, but Washington forward Lewis Ratcliff said that the team might not have been as focused as they should have been against the division-best Roughnecks.
"We were ok, but we weren't very sharp, we weren't super intense," Ratcliff said. "I think we thought we were back to where we were at the end of last year, but a couple of good games really doesn’t make that."
The Calgary offense was led in the game by Dane Dobbie, who finished with a five-goal night, and Jeff Shattler, who finished with four goals and five assists in the game.
Both goaltenders had a solid time in net as Calgary’s Mike Poulin made 38 saves on 51 shots and Washington’s Tyler Richards made 37 saves on 52 shots.
Next Saturday, Calgary will host the Edmonton Rush at 9:30 p.m. EDT in the only NLL game of the week. Washington’s next game will be against Boston on Mar. 25 at 11 p.m. EDT.
For the Stealth, the week off isn’t necessarily a welcomed sight, but at least it will give them some extra time to prepare for a good Blazers squad that is mad after losing two straight.
"A week off, kind of comes at a bad time after a tough loss,” Ratcliff said. “We got to make sure that we're ready to go when Boston comes to town, they're a very good team.”