Overtime Heroics From Cloutier Push Bandits Past Thunderbirds

Gary Groob
All Lacrosse All The Time  – A Division of Edge of Philly Sports Network

The Buffalo Bandits (10-2) looked to extend their winning streak to six games when they wrapped up a home-and-home series with the Halifax Thunderbirds (5-7) at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, NY. 

The Tale of the Tape:

Dhane Smith has totaled 27 goals and 60 assists for 87 points this season.  Smith ranks first in the NLL in assists, second in points and sixth in goals this year.  Ian MacKay has recorded hat tricks in back-to-back games and now has three on the season. Through 11 games this season, MacKay has set new career highs in both goals (17) and points (31).  Matt Vinc has posted a 10.40 goals-against average and a save percentage of .800 this season. Vinc, the reigning NLL Goaltender of the Year, currently leads all NLL goalies in career wins (142), saves (9,509) and minutes played (14,349).

For the Thunderbirds, Randy Staats has 58 points (19g,39a). Chris Boushy leads the club with 23 goals.  With an array of talent in Clarke Petterson, Austin Shanks, Cody Jamieson, and Ryan Benesch, this team can be explosive. In net, Warren Hill is 4-5. He’s ninth in the league with an 11.35 goals-against average among goalies with at least 120 minutes played and is 11th in the league with 313 saves.

The goalie match-up had Warren Hill for the Thunderbirds facing off against Matt Vinc in net for the Bandits.

Halifax and Buffalo played a defensive first quarter that only yielded one goal to the Thunderbirds on the power-play.  The Bandits got rolling in the second quarter with Josh Byrne (3g,6a) and Chris Cloutier (4g,1a) scoring twice each, and the Bandits taking a 5-3 lead to the half.

The second half Halifax got on a six goal run.  The three goal lead was large due to Chris Boushy (3g,0a) and Eric Fannell (2g,0a) scoring a pair each.  Buffalo mounted their comeback in the fourth with three goals, including the game tying goal from Kyle Buchanan (2g,1a) that sent the game to OT.

In the overtime period Chris Cloutier ended it with a fake, then beauty of a shot off the far post for the 10-9 Bandits win.

To The Game:

In a defensively played quarter, Halifax came away with the only goal.  Randy Staats blasted a Cody Jamieson feed past Matt Vinc at 11:45 for the 1-0 lead.

After one quarter, Halifax 1  Buffalo 0.

Second Quarter:

Buffalo finally got on the board when Josh Byrne converted a Dalton Sulver pass at 3:09, followed by Chris Cloutier scoring from a behind the back pass from Josh Byrne on the power-play just 0:38 seconds later. 

Chris Boushy tied the game for Halifax in transition off a long lead pass from Warren Hill at 5:16, followed by Josh Byrne converting a Dhane Smith pass at 5:35.  Chris Cloutier increased the lead off a Kyle Buchanan pass to put the Bandits up by two, but Tyson Bell brought the Thunderbirds within a goal converting a Colton Armstrong pass at 8:36.  Nathaniel Koznevnikov got his first NLL Goal for the Bandits to restore the two goal lead heading to the half.

At the half, Buffalo 5 Halifax 3.

Third Quarter:

Chris Cloutier opened the second half scoring just 0:18 seconds in when he converted a Josh Byrne feed, but was answered immediately by Randy Staats finishing off a Clarke Petterson pass 0:36 seconds later.

Chris Boushy got the Thunderbirds within one goal when he beat Matt Vinc off a Ryan Benesch pass, followed by Eric Fannell scoring on the power-play at 9:59.

Two more quick goals from Halifax ended the third.  Ryan Benesch added a goal off a Trevor Smyth pass at 14:14, followed by Eric Fannell with his second of the game 0:28 seconds later.

After three quarters, Halifax 8 Buffalo 6.

Fourth Quarter:

Chris Boushy extended the Thunderbirds lead to three goals when he converted a Cody Jamieson feed 0:30 seconds into the fourth quarter.

Kyle Buchanan stopped the Halifax run with a power-play goal off a Josh Byrne pass at 3:03, followed by Byrne himself scoring off a Brad McCulley pass at 7:29.  Kyle Buchanan tied the game off a Dhane Smith pass at 10:34.

Both teams had opportunities to take the lead but both Warren Hill and Matt Vinc were superb in net.

After regulation, Buffalo 9 Halifax 9.


Chris Cloutier ended the game just 1:58 into the extra period converting a Josh Byrne pass with a fake, then a perfect shot to the corner.

The Three Stars:

  1. Chris Cloutier
  2. Josh Byrne
  3. Chris Boushy

Game Stats:

  • Shots on goal favored Halifax 57-49
  • The faceoff battle went to the Thunderbirds 16-7.
  • The loose ball battle went to Halifax 78-63.
  • Halifax went 2 for 4 on the power-play, while Buffalo – went 3 for 4.

Top Scorers:

Halifax Thunderbirds:

  • Randy Staats (2g,2a)
  • Chris Boushy (3g,0a)
  • Ryan Benesch (1g,2a)

Buffalo Bandits:

  • Josh Byrne (3g,6a)
  • Dhane Smith (0g,7a)
  • Chris Cloutier (4g,1a)

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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.