By Alex Beilman - Bandits.com
Ryan Benesch’s four-goal return to the Buffalo Bandits lineup was not enough to will his team to victory over the Rochester Knighthawks on Saturday night at BlueCross Arena. A back-and-forth fourth quarter was capped off by Brad Gillies game-winning goal with 2:05 left in the game to give Rochester an 11-10 victory.
Anthony Cosmo made 48 saves in the losing effort, and Matt Vinc stopped 23 of the 33 Bandits shots he faced on the evening.
Dhane Smith posted two goals and four assists for the Bandit while Mitch Jones added a goal and four assists of his own. Mark Steenhuis also contributed two goals and three assists.
For the home side, it was rookie Kyle Jackson, who took the game over, scoring three goals and adding five assists. Veteran Dan Dawson had a solid game, with two goals and four assists.
The loss drops Buffalo to 5-7 on the season and improves Rochester’s record to 5-8. Buffalo is still ahead of Rochester in the standings, but missed an opportunity to tie New England (6-6) for the final playoff spot.
Rochester opened the scoring on their home floor as Joe Resetarits, who finished with three goals and two assists, scored his first goal of the game just 48 seconds into the contest. The next goal did not come until almost six minutes later, when Dawson scored his first of the night.
The Bandits responded positively, going on a three-goal run to end the quarter. Smith got his first, as he took a feed from Mitch Jones and ripped a shot past Vinc. Steenhuis scored his first goal two minutes later and Benesch closed out the opening-quarter scoring with his first goal since a concussion forced him to miss seven games. Buffalo ended the quarter leading 3-2.
The second quarter would continue to turn in Buffalo’s favor. Benesch also opened the second quarter scoring, as he buried a power play goal off of a feed from Jones to make it 4-2. Dawson got his side back to within one eight minutes later.
However, Pat Saunders (1+0) answered that goal, and Steenhuis added his second of the night to send the teams to halftime with the Bandits leading 6-3.
Resetarits repeated his early-game antics with a goal just 56 seconds into the third quarter to get the Knighthawks back within two goals.
Benesch restored a three-goal Bandits lead twice in the third quarter. His third goal came off a very nice, behind-the-back feed from Alex-Kedoh Hill. He took the pass, cut to the net, and buried the ball behind Vinc.
Jackson scored his first of the night four minutes later to get the score to 7-5, but Benesch answered at the 13:51 mark of the third, and Buffalo went into the final quarter leading 8-5.
With Buffalo looking to be in command, Rochester put their foot to the floor. Dan Lomas (1+2), Cory Vitarelli (1+0) and Resetarits teamed up to score three goals in 59 seconds to tie the game at 8-8. Much like the last game in Rochester, the Bandits saw their lead evaporate seemingly in an instant.
Smtih potted his second of the evening to put Buffalo back on top by a score of 9-8 and that goal looked a lot like his first, this time taking a feed from Brad Self and burying a shot from the left side.
However, Kyle Jackson put the cherry on top of his great night, scoring two goals in two minutes to put Rochester ahead 10-9. Mitch Jones followed that up 30 seconds later, scoring his 100th career NLL goal to tie the game again, this time at 10-10.
With the teams teetering on another overtime game, Brad Gillies decided he wanted to end the game in regulation this time around. He scored an unassisted marker at the 12:55 mark of the fourth quarter to put his team up 11-10. That would go on to stand as the game-winner.
The Bandits’ next opportunity will be in the friendly confines of KeyBank Center, as they face off against the Saskatchewan Rush for a rematch of last year’s Champion’s Cup Final. Game time is set for Saturday, April 1 at 7:30 p.m.