The Buffalo Bandits did not get the start to the 2016-17 season that they expected, or even wanted.
They proved to be no match for the Colorado Mammoth, falling by a score of 12-8 in the Key Bank Center on Friday night.
The Bandits fell behind early, mixing a lack of offensive opportunities with some costly defensive breakdowns. Ryan Benesch and Alex Kedoh Hill had three goals each, but the rest of the offense was mostly quiet.
For comparison's sake, Buffalo's worst loss of the entire season in 2016 was by four goals. It took a good fourth quarter to avoid breaking that mark.
Slow start: Buffalo had to wait a while to earn its first goal of the season. The Bandits didn't even score in the first period, as Colorado scored three goals. A short-handed goal by Dan Coates came in the final minute of the period.
Benesch ended the brief scoring drought with a goal at 1:05 of the second period. Colorado responded with a pair of power-play goals, with Zack Greer and John Grant doing the honors.
Brad Self, in his first game with Buffalo, had the prettiest goal of the first half. He took a pass while charging down the slot and sort of swept it into the net. That cut the lead to 5-2, and seemed to give the Bandits a little life. But Jeremy Noble answered less than two minutes later, and the Mammoth led, 6-2, at the half.
Slamming the door: The Bandits needed a good start in the third quarter to get back in the game, but it never happened. Colorado scored the first three goals of the quarter, which chased goalie Anthony Cosmo in favor of Dave DiRuscio.
Called up: Blaze Riorden found himself on the Bandits' opening night roster, and that's quite a story.
Riorden wasn't even drafted by the Bandits. He was a goalie for the outdoor team for the University at Albany, but became a forward when he moved to the indoor game. Riorden has been praised by Buffalo coach Troy Cordingley for his outstanding instincts on the field.
A spot on the roster opened up when Anthony Malcom went on injured reserve because of a lower-body injury. Daryl Veltman also missed Friday's game because his wife had a baby earlier in the week. The veteran was scratched from the lineup. Riorden slid into the roster spot. He was the only forward on the practice squad.
Colorado scratched defender Josh Sullivan.
Little change: If you liked last year's team, you'll probably like this year's edition. Of the 20 players on the opening roster, 17 were on the team last year. It would have been 18 had Malcom stayed healthy.
Brad Self was acquired from Rochester in September, while Craig Point - a former Rochester Knighthawk - signed as a free agent.
"We brought in some competition for these guys, and they stepped it up another notch in training camp," Cordingley said. "We're happy with that. We know what these guys can do.
"Last year we all worked hard together. That was a huge thing for us. We have to continue that. We have to battle for each other. That's why we were successful. We won the little battles, and they add up."
NEXT UP: After a week off, the Bandits host Georgia on Saturday, Jan. 14. The team plays its first three games at home.