The Buffalo Bandits earned an impressive win in their season opener, downing the highly-touted Toronto Rock 13-9 in front of an announced crowd of 11,516. Buffalo pulled away in the fourth, outscoring the Rock 6-2. Ten different players found the back of the net for the Bandits.
Byrne, baby, Byrne: Buffalo's Josh Byrne, the first-overall pick in this year's NLL Draft, turned heads with his first career goal. He picked up a loose ball at the dots and immediately turned into his shooting motion. The quick-stick move beat Toronto's Nick Rose to give the Bandits a 6-5 lead early in the third quarter.
— Buffalo Bandits (@NLLBandits) December 9, 2017
Breaking the ice: Pat Saunders, acquired in a midseason trade last year, scored the Bandits' first goal of the season 2:35 into the game. Smith sneaked a pass through two Rock players, finding Saunders near the net and behind the defense.
Great start: Goalie Alex Buque and the Bandits defense shut down a dangerous Rock offense early in the game, not allowing a goal for 12 minutes and 57 seconds. Adam Jones, a Canisius College graduate, scored his first goal as a Rock on the power play to end the shutout.
Buque displayed impressive lateral quickness, especially when you factor in his 5-foot-10, 230 lbs. frame. The three-year vet, acquired in a trade with Colorado this offseason, made 55 saves in his Buffalo debut.
Night of firsts: Buque and Byrne weren't the only players debuting for the Bandits. Callum Crawford, Jordan Durston and Chase Fraser all scored their first goal as a Bandit. Fraser's was also the first goal of his career.
Newest Bandit: Buffalo made a last-minute trade before the season opener, acquiring forward Vaughn Harris from the Calgary Roughnecks for a fifth-round pick in 2018. Harris, a second-round pick in last year's draft, went pointless in two games with the Roughnecks last season.
Bandits General Manager Steve Dietrich said he's a player the team has been interested in going back to the draft. Harris fills the fourth spot on the practice roster, a spot the team specifically kept open in case he was cut or made available. Calgary didn't have a roster spot for him after forward Wes Berg ended his holdout yesterday.
Up Next: The Bandits have their first of five bye weeks next week. Buffalo returns to action Dec. 23 at the Rochester Knighthawks.