The Buffalo Bandits may not be on the top of the National Lacrosse League's mountain, but they are almost back to level ground.
The Bandits won their third straight game on Friday night, beating the Rochester Knighthawks, 13-9, in the KeyBank Center. It was Buffalo's third straight win. The team's record improved to 4-5 as the Bandits reached the halfway point of the 2016-17 season.
It was a balanced attack for the Bandits, with several players contributing on offense. Five players had at least four points: Alex Kedoh Hill, Dhane Smith, Pat Saunders, Mitch Jones and Brad Self.
Rochester appeared to be just about out of it in the fourth quarter, as the Knighthawks trailed by 11-6. But Rochester scored three straight goals to come within two with less than six minutes left.
Shooting gallery: The shot clock might have been more interesting than the scoreboard in the first 30 minutes. Buffalo piled up the shots, but didn't have that much of an edge to show for it.
The Bandits had a 36-21 edge in shots on goal, and a 17-5 advantage on shots that missed the net. However, they only led, 6-4 after 30 minutes.
Fast start: Not only did the Bandits score the first goal of the game for only the third time of the season, but the "new guy" on the team helped him out. Pat Saunders picked up an assist only 4:43 into his career as a Bandit. Saunders had to wait a while to score his first goal; it came at 5:34 of the second period.
Milestone watch: Buffalo goalie Anthony Cosmo had the 7,000th save of his NLL career in the game. He's the first player in league history to reach that number. Cosmo had several top-notch stops in Friday's game.
Wave goodbye: Remember all of those home games the Bandits played at the start of the season? They are about to pay for it.
Buffalo has a bye week followed by two road games. The Bandits' next home game is on April 1, and then it's back on the road for three more games. So it's six of seven on the road for Buffalo. The Bandits do finish the season with two home games. Still, the next few weeks will be difficult.
Friends, then enemies: Self spent several seasons with the Knighthawks. Now he's on the other side of a rivalry with the Bandits. This was the first meeting of the season between the teams and obviously Self had plenty of friends on the other bench Friday night.
Assistant coach Rich Kilgour said that's all part of the game.
"It doesn't matter who your friend is; you check that at the door," he said. "Once that opening whistle blows, it's a case of 'I've got a Bandits jersey and you have a Knighthawks jersey. You've got the wrong jersey on tonight. ' That's the way you have to think about it.
"He played for Rochester for several years, and they gave up on him. That's the way Brad should look at it, and it's the way our team will look at it. Too bad for the Knighthawks."
Next up: After a brief nap, the same teams will play each other Saturday afternoon at the Blue Cross Arena. Starting time in Rochester is 1 p.m. (Radio 550 AM).