Bandits Outlast Knighthawks In A Feisty Affair

The Rochester Knighthawks (3-2) welcomed the defending NLL champion Buffalo Bandits (3-2) to Segar & Sciortino Field at The Blue Cross Arena in front of a season high 8000+ fans.  This was the first time the two teams had met since the 2023 NLL Quarterfinals.

The intrastate rivals are slated to meet twice this season for the second straight year with both contests occurring over a three-week span (the next will be February 3rd at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo).  The matchup itself features the top offense go up against the fourth ranked defense. The Knighthawks come into the weekend averaging a league-best 14.25 goals per game while their 57 goals scored ranks second in the NLL behind only Albany.   Buffalo is averaging the fourth-fewest goals-against per game with 10.75 through its first four games of the season. Anchored by veteran goaltender Matt Vinc, the Bandits have held the opposition to fewer than 10 goals in each of their last three games. 

The first half had everything!  Great goals ( and lots of them), feisty play, fights, great saves, and end to end action.  The teams showed once again that this game is a game of runs with everybody getting involved.   Ryan Smith scored four with Kyle Waters getting three for Rochester.  The Bandits spread out their first half scoring with 8 different scorers.

While there was less scoring in the second half, the intensity and feistiness were just the same.  Buffalo finally put together a big run scoring five in a row led by Josh Byrne (3g,3a), Chris Cloutier (3g,2a) and Dhane Smith (0g,6a).   Matt Vinc was sensational in the second half to lock in his 150th career victory.  Buffalo wins 15-13.

To The Game:

The Knighthawks opened the scoring quickly when Ryan Smith converted a Ryan Lanchbury pass on the move at 0:50 seconds, but the Bandits came back with Dylan Robinson crashing the net off a Cam Wyers feed in transition at 1:53.  After the play Dylan Robinson was assessed a penalty for goaltender interference.  Rochester regained the lead on the power-play with Ryan Smith’s second goal of the night.  Smith fired a laser into the far corner beating Matt Vinc at 2:13.

A spirited tilt between Emerson Clark and Tyler Biles got the fans at the Blue Cross Arena to their feet.

Buffalo then rhymed off three goals in a row.  The first was Chris Cloutier converting a Dhane Smith pass from the left wing at 4:36, followed by Kyle Buchanan just 0:10 seconds later in transition.  Josh Byrne added a power-play goal wiring a Chris Cloutier feed to the top corner past Riley Hutchcraft at 6:21. 

Kyle Waters got the Knighthawks back on the board scoring from the outside off a Thomas McConvey pass at 9:47, but Tehoka Nanticoke answered converting a Chris Cloutier feed all alone in front of the net at 10:40.

Rochester finished the quarter with a four goal flurry.  Matt Gilray scored in transition off a rebound from in front off a Kyle Waters shot at 11:12, followed by Waters scoring his second of the quarter on a delayed penalty.   Waters scored off a Connor Fields pass at 13:03.  Fields then added a goal with a laser to the shortside of Matt Vinc off a Ryan Lanchbury pass at 13:30, followed by Thomas McConvey scoring with just 0:02 seconds left in the quarter in transition off a Ryan Smith pass.

After one quarter, Rochester 7 Buffalo 5.

Second Quarter:

Ryan Smith increased the Knighthawks lead when he converted a Thomas McConvey pass with a great individual effort at 0:42 seconds.

Buffalo answered with three of their own.  Brandon Robinson converted a Kyle Buchanan pass from in close at 2:14, followed by Nick Weiss scoring in transition off a Steve Priolo feed 0:26 seconds later.  Chase Fraser then tied the game finishing off a Josh Byrne pass at 3:51.

Ryan Smith’s fourth goal of the night gave Rochester the lead once again when he blasted a Ryan Lanchbury pass over Matt Vinc’s shoulder at 4:29 on the power-play.  Chris Cloutier answered for Buffalo with a power-play goal of his own off a Dhane Smith pass at 11:27. 

Kyle Waters gave the Knighthawks the lead again with his third of the night off an Austin Hasen feed at 12:43, but Tehoka Nanticoke tied the game off an Emerson Clark pass at 13:54.

At the half, Buffalo 10 Rochester 10.

Third Quarter:

Rochester finally got on the board while Cam Wyers was serving a five minute high sticking penalty for the Bandits. Kyle Waters scored his fourth of the night with a low to low skipped shot off a Ryan Lanchbury feed at 9:40, followed by Connor Fields scoring on the same power-play off a Ryan Smith pass at 11:06.

After three quarters, Rochester 12 Buffalo 10.

Fourth Quarter:

Ian MacKay got the Bandits within one goal in transition with a low to low shot off a Matt Spanger pass at 3:12.  Chase Fraser then fired an absolute howitzer from the outside low to low at 7:02.  Josh Byrne then scored the next two.  His first was from in close off a Brandon Robinson pass at 8:18, followed by a laser off a Dhane Smith feed at 8:42.  Chris Cloutier converted a Dhane Smith pass to the top corner off Riley Hutchcraft’s shoulder at 11:11 for a three goal lead.

Thomas McConvey got the Knighthawks within two scoring in traffic at 11:32, but Matt Vinc was spectacular down the stretch to give the Bandits the victory.

Final score, Buffalo 15 Rochester 13.

The Three Stars:

1. Matt Vinc
2. Chris Cloutier
3. Kyle Waters

Game Stats:

  • Shots on goal favored the Bandits 65-62.
  • The faceoff battle was dominated by Rochester 24-8.
  • The loose ball battle went to the Knighthawks 79-66.
  • The Bandits went 2 for 3 on the power-play, while Rochester went 4 for 5.

***Of Note:

During this game, Matt Vinc surpassed 15,000 minutes played in his NLL pro career, as well as his 150th career win.

Tehoka Nanticoke scored his 100th Career Point

Top Scorers:

Buffalo Bandits:

  • Josh Byrne 3g, 3a
  • Dhane Smith 0g,6a
  • Chris Cloutier 3g, 2a

Rochester Knighthawks:

  • Ryan Smith 4g, 5a
  • Connor Fields 2g, 5a
  • Thomas McConvey 2g, 5a

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Gary Groob
Gary Groob

Gary Groob has been involved with Lacrosse for the majority of his life, whether playing, coaching, or covering the sport for the media.

An avid fan, with a real drive about helping to “grow the game”, Gary became part of podcasts about the game in 2010. Through the podcasts, Mr. Groob was given an opportunity to write about lacrosse, and the rest as they say, is history.

Through many miles (flying and driving) Gary has made inroads with the National Lacrosse League, Major Series Lacrosse League, the Ontario Lacrosse Association, as well as the Arena Lacrosse League, covering the leagues, their teams, and players, working for, and in concert with all of them.

In the year 2020, Mr. Groob was made the media person for the Arena Lacrosse League, voted onto the board of directors of the Brampton Excelsiors Lacrosse Club, as well as being made administrator of the Lacrosse page “Global Lacrosse” with a membership of 9000 members in over 90 Countries. Gary was also made an administrator of Lacrosse History Past Present and Future in 2022.

Mr. Groob co-hosts a weekly Lacrosse show on Spanglish Sports World, and ZingoTV channel 250, as well as writes a weekly lacrosse column for La Portada Canada News (both in print, and online).

Gary also hosts a Lacrosse talk show and podcast for The Edge of Philly Sports Network, seen live Sunday nights at 9pm (ET), and archived on the Edge of Philly YouTube page, as well as Spotify.

Mr. Groob’s other sports interests include Hockey, Football, Boxing, Wrestling, and Baseball, competing competitively in Boxing and Wrestling for many years.