The Buffalo Bandits continue to find new ways to win indoor lacrosse games, particularly at home.
The latest example of that fact came Saturday night, when the Bandits came away with a 12-9 victory over the Colorado Mammoth. A crowd of 15,445 in the First Niagara Center watched Buffalo take its sixth straight home game.
Last week, the Bandits trailed most of the way and relied on one of their young players, Dhane Smith, to score the game’s biggest goal. On Saturday, Buffalo never trailed, and received some contributions from some old pros down the stretch to pull out its third straight win.
“It’s nice to see our team dominate fourth quarters,” Bandits forward John Tavares said. “To me it looks like we know how to win. The last couple of years, it seems like we found ways to lose. This year we’ve found ways to win. That’s the sign of a good team.”
“The one thing we’ve done well all year is answer the bell in close games,” forward Joe Resetarits added.
This game was very much up for grabs late in the third quarter. Colorado had trailed, 5-0, early in the second quarter. But the Mammoth slowly crawled back in the game. When John Grant Jr. scored two power-play goals within 33 seconds, Colorado was tied, 7-7. Then Tavares, 45, scored a huge goal with less than two seconds left in the third period to put the Bandits back in front.
“We had an opportunity to run a six-on-five play” with the goalie pulled, “and it worked,” Tavares said. “It kind of snuck in. The goalie made a nice effort coming across the net. It trickled in and gave us a little momentum going into the fourth quarter.”
Still, Buffalo only led, 9-8, with about eight minutes left. Then Shawn Williams, 39, and Mark Steenhuis, 33, scored only 28 seconds apart. Almost before they could blink, the Mammoth was down by three goals; Steenhuis added one last goal later.
“They are guys that have been doing that their whole careers,” Bandits coach Troy Cordingley said.
Speaking of veterans, Anthony Cosmo, 36, was busy slamming the door on any comeback hopes by the Mammoth. He made several splendid saves to maintain that lead.
“Part of what makes a good team is in the fourth quarter, not to just hold on. It knows when to turn it up,” Cosmo said.
“Coz has been like that all year,” Cordingley added. “He’s been outstanding.”
It was a little surprising that the game came down to the fourth quarter. The Bandits were in charge in the early going. Resetarits was a spark as he was on his way to a six-point night, and the defense was airtight for the first 24 minutes.
“We had a real good first half defensively,” Cordingley said. “But we watched them in the third quarter instead of making things happen.”
Colorado scored five power-play goals in the game, and Grant had three of them on his way to a six-point night. But Buffalo recovered just in time to move to 8-2, a half-game better than Rochester in the National Lacrosse League’s East Division.
The schedule turns tougher now, as the Bandits only play at home twice in their final eight games. The first of the road games comes on Friday in Edmonton.