By Joe Ray – Bandits.com
ST. PAUL, M.N.- The Buffalo Bandits embarked on the first leg of another three-game road trip looking to snap their recent winless skid. A five-goal second quarter for the Minnesota Swarm was the driving force behind a 10-9 victory that handed the Bandits their fifth straight loss.
Logan Schuss led the winning effort for the Swarm, registering four goals to go along with two assists. Ryan Benesch, Mitch Wilde and newcomer Mitch Jones all recorded three points for the Bandits. Goaltender Anthony Cosmo made 44 saves on 54 shots in the loss.
The Bandits were tested from the opening faceoff, as Minnesota's Jordan MacIntosh ended up with two point-blank chances in the first 90 seconds of the contest. However, Cosmo was up to the challenge, and that early momentum translated on the other end. Dhane Smith got out in transition and beat Swarm goaltender Tyler Carlson for the early 1-0 lead.
Schuss picked up his first of the game at the 6:18 mark with Wilde in the box for a minor holding penalty. Four minutes later, the Bandits found their response as Smith connected with Benesch who converted on the two-on-one opportunity.
Minnesota closed the first quarter on a short run to recapture the lead after 15 minutes of play. Schuss found his second of the game as Buffalo got pinned in the defensive zone. Less than a minute after that tying goal, the Swarm picked up their second power-play goal of the game from MacIntosh, with Schuss picking up an assist on the play.
The Bandits started the second quarter with the man advantage, and Jones picked up his first NLL goal after faking out Carlson. Although the Bandits returned to the power play quickly, Minnesota wasted no time taking the lead back. Brock Sorenson outworked the Buffalo defense and beat Cosmo from behind the net for the short-handed goal.
Three minutes later, the Swarm cashed in on another Bandits penalty as Shayne Jackson found the back of the net to make it 5-3.
The Bandits' transition game made sure that the Minnesota lead was eliminated quickly. Smith scored on another breakaway with Jay Thorimbert assisting at the 5:43 mark, and Wilde picked up a goal just 29 seconds later on a three-on-one opportunity to make it 5-5.
From there, Joe Resetarits stepped up for the Bandits just past the halfway mark of the quarter to give the Bandits the lead once again with a rocket of a shot from the left wing. Resetarits nearly had another goal roughly a minute later, but a video review determined that Resetarits had fallen into the crease as the ball crossed the line.
After that goal was overturned, it was all Minnesota for the rest of the first half. After Josh Gillam tied the game at the 9:17 mark, Callum Crawford unleashed a huge shot that beat Cosmo low and returned the lead to the Swarm. One minute later, Schuss completed his hat trick on a delayed Buffalo penalty, and that 8-6 Minnesota lead would remain on the scoreboard for quite some time.
Following a first half that saw nine combined goals, the defense and goaltending both picked up in the early part of the third quarter. With Cosmo caught out of position, Glen Bryan may have made the Bandits' save of the year before he was sent to the box for a holding penalty. The Bandits repaid Bryan for the huge save by killing off their first penalty of the night.
The Bandits' defense certainly clamped down in the middle part of the third quarter, but unfortunately the transition game could not channel their first-half success. Kevin Brownell ripped a shot off the left pad of Carlson off a two-on-one, and Smith and Steve Priolo also had their chances.
The first time that the Bandits traveled to Minnesota this season, the two teams could not score a single goal throughout the first quarter, the first time that had ever happened in NLL history. This time around, the scoreless third quarter kept the Swarm in front by two entering the final 15 minutes of regulation.
After a scoreless stretch of just over 21 minutes going back to the second quarter, the Bandits found the back of the net once again through their transition game. Jamie Rooney broke in on net all alone off the bench, and got the Bandits back in the game. Just 52 seconds later, Benesch picked up his second of the game with a shot that beat Carlson right along the floor.
Kiel Matisz was able to give the Swarm the lead for a short period, but Buffalo cashed in on another power play opportunity with less than six minutes to play. A big loose ball by Benesch kept Minnesota's defense pinned, and Mark Steenhuis put home his first goal of the game to knot the game up once again.
In the end, Schuss' fourth goal of the game with 4:37 to play gave Minnesota one more lead that would carry through the remainder of the game. Buffalo thought they would have a chance to tie on a delayed tripping penalty to Minnesota, but the Swarm never regained possession and time ran out on the Bandits.
Buffalo takes on the Toronto Rock next Friday in the first of two road games next weekend. From there, the Bandits will head to Rochester for a Saturday night contest with the Knighthawks.
The Bandits will conclude their regular season with a 7:30 p.m. game at First Niagara Center against Rochester on April 26.