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Buffalo Bandits gameday: Bandits face New England, Georgia in back-to-back

Faceoff: 7:30 p.m. Friday at New England at Mohegan Sun Arena; 7:30 p.m. Saturday vs. Georgia at KeyBank Center

Online: NLL TV

Radio: 1520 AM

Records: Buffalo 4-3, New England 4-2, Georgia 3-3

Last time out: Buffalo avenged an early-season blowout loss to Rochester, defeating the Knighthawks 16-14 thanks to 11 points from Dhane Smith and five goals from Josh Byrne.

New England is looking to bounce back after a 21-9 drubbing by the Toronto Rock on Jan. 27. The Swarm have returned to form after falling to 0-2 early in the season. Georgia has won two straight, most recently defeating the Vancouver Stealth, 16-12.

All-time series: The Bandits are 3-2 against New England in the regular season since the franchise moved from Philadelphia to Uncasville, Conn., in 2015. The Black Wolves won two of the three matchups last season.

Buffalo also leads the all-time series with the Swarm, winning 12 of the 17 matchups between the franchises dating back to the Swarm's time in Minnesota. The Swarm are 0-3 against the Bandits since moving to suburban Atlanta.

Feel the burn: Byrne's five-goal, one assist performance against the Knighthawks was the best of his young career. He's up to 25 points on the season (seven goals, 11 assists) and leads rookies in all three offensive categories.

"He's becoming more comfortable," Bandits General Manager Steve Dietrich said. "He's getting more confident. I don't know if we're going to expect five goals from him every night – that'd be nice – but I think you're going to start seeing him produce at a higher level than he had been earlier this season."

Roster move: The Bandits traded forward Pat Saunders, who had been pushed down the lefty depth chart by Mitch Jones, Byrne and Jordan Durston, to the Vancouver Stealth in exchange for transition player Thomas Hoggarth. The newest Bandit is in his third year in the National Lacrosse League. He's played 24 games, all with Vancouver, and notched eight goals and four assists.

Dietrich said he expects Hoggarth to play in both games this weekend. He'll wear No. 14.

Saunders had three goals and four assists in four games this season. He was a healthy scratch in three games, including the last outing against the Knighthawks.

Former Silver Creek star Zed Williams adjusts to new role with Georgia Swarm

Injury updates: Dietrich said it is looking good for forward Chase Fraser to return to action this weekend. Transition player Mark Steenhuis was at practice this week with his cast off but did not participate in drills. He's still likely a bit away from returning. Goalie Davide DiRuscio is three or four weeks away.

New England's Stephan Leblanc left the Black Wolves' game against Toronto after taking a knee to the head. He received six stitches above his right eye but told NLL.com's Matt Cullen after the game that he'll be alright.

Familiar faces: New England's roster consists of four former Bandits, David Brock, Jay Thorimbert, Derek Suddons and Kevin Buchanan. Brock is the most recent departure from Banditland, as he left the team this offseason when he signed with the Black Wolves as a free agent. He has five goals and two assists in six games this season.

Georgia has one former Bandit, Jerome Thompson, and former Silver Creek standouts Zed Williams and Frank Brown on its roster. Williams, a three-time first-team All-Western New York selection, has three goals and two assists in five games. Brown has a goal and five assists in five games.

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