Bandits advance to NLL East Final with win over Black Wolves

Buffalo beats New England 13-6; Will play the winner of Toronto and Georgia on Monday

Dave Buchanan
May 04, 2019 - 11:51 pm

Photo: Dave Buchanan (@FastTrack550)

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The Buffalo Bandits defeated the New England Black Wolves 13-6 on Saturday night at the KeyBank Center in the NLL East Semifinal to advance in the NLL Cup Playoffs. 

The Bandits never trailed after rookie Ian MacKay opened the scoring just 45-seconds into the game. Dhane Smith and Shawn Evans both struck before the three-minute mark as well to extend the lead to 3-0 on Buffalo's first three shots of the game. 

Callum Crawford scored his first of four goals to get New England on the board. Chase Fraser answered for the Bandits before the end of the first quarter to give them a 4-1 lead.

The Black Wolves made a game of it in the second quarter as they were out-shooting the Bandits, but were having a trouble beating Matt Vinc. Tyler Digby and Crawford cut the Bandits' lead to just one early in the second stanza. Buffalo finished the first half on a three-goal run on tallies from Chris Cloutier, Smith and Evans. 

The teams traded goals in the second half as the Black Wolves found it difficult to sustain any kind of momentum. The Bandits' special teams was on point as they went five-for-nine with the man advantage. Corey Small and Evans both scored a pair of power play goals each. Small's second power play goal made the score 11-6, which put the final nail in New England's coffin. Nick Weiss and Steve Priolo added empty net goals to put an exclamation point on the victory. 

Matt Vinc was, once again, outstanding in net for the Bandits as he made 46 saves on 52 shots. The six goals against set a franchise postseason record for fewest goals surrendered. He got a standing ovation in the first quarter when he made four consecutive saves on a New England two-man advantage. Vinc got another ovation from the crowd when he exited the game was just a couple minutes left in regulation. 

Smith led Buffalo with seven points as he scored twice and added five assists. Evans finished with a hat-trick. Small and Priolo both scored twice. Cloutier registered four points (1G, 3A) in his first NLL playoff game.

The victory was the Bandits' first playoff win since 2016. They now await their opponent for the NLL East Final, which will be on Saturday, May 11 at 7:30 p.m. They will host the winner of Monday's game between the Georgia Swarm and Toronto Rock.

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