Bandits beat Black Wolves 12-6; Clinch first place in NLL East

Buffalo secures the best record in the NLL and home field advantage in the playoffs

Dave Buchanan
April 20, 2019 - 11:57 pm

Photo: Dave Buchanan (@FastTrack550)

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The road to the NLL Cup will go through the Buffalo.

On Saturday night at the KeyBank Center, the Buffalo Bandits defeated the New England Black Wolves 12-6 to clinch first place in the NLL East and the top overall seed in the NLL Cup Playoffs. 

Buffalo put forth one of their best 60-minute efforts of the season, never trailing in the game. The teams traded goals during the opening minutes before the Bandits went on three-goal run to take a 5-2 lead that they would not relinquish. New England closed within a goal by the end of the opening stanza, but could only muster two more goals in the final three quarters of play. 

The Bandits took an 8-5 lead into halftime. Dave Emala scored 26-seconds into the third quarter to cut the lead to two for the Black Wolves. Bandits goalie Matt Vinc took over from that point as he shut out New England for the final 29:34. Vinc continued has MVP-caliber season in goal with 39 saves on 45 shots as he recorded a franchise-record 13th win of the season. This was sixth time this season Vinc held an opponent to less than 10 goals.

Nine different players scored for the Bandits. Corey Small led the team with a hat-trick, while Chris Cloutier added a pair. Dhane Smith had a game-high five points with a goal and four assists. 

The Bandits improve to 13-4 on the season. The win combined with a loss by the Georgia Swarm allowed Buffalo to clinch the Eastern Division regular season title with one game remaining. Next Saturday the Bandits travel to San Diego for the very first time to play the expansion Seals.

They will open the postseason on Saturday, May 4 at KeyBank Center in a rematch with New England at 7:30 p.m.

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