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Buffalo Bandits gameday: Bandits play twice after week off

Faceoff: Friday vs. Saskatchewan at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at Georgia at 4:05 p.m.

Online: NLL TV.

Radio: 1520 AM.

Records: Buffalo 6-5, Saskatchewan 10-2, Georgia 5-7.

Last time out: The Bandits' offense struggled against the Colorado Mammoth's backup goalie, Steve Fryer, in a low-scoring affair in the Pepsi Center on March 3. Buffalo ended the game on a three-goal run but couldn't get a last-second equalizer in an 8-7 loss. Dhane Smith led the Bandits, losers of two straight, with three goals and two assists.

The Saskatchewan Rush, riding a two-game win streak, also had last weekend off. Mark Matthews dished out nine assists in their last game action, a 16-10 win against the Vancouver Stealth. Saskatchewan, the No. 1 team in the standings in the West Division, has already clinched a spot in the playoffs.

Georgia, last year's National Lacrosse League champion, had its surprising struggles continue with an 11-10 loss to Rochester last Saturday. Forward Jordan Hall has returned to the Swarm lineup since the last time Buffalo saw them. He has five goals and four assists in four games.

Last matchup: Buffalo defeated both of these teams earlier in the season. The victory against the Rush, a seven-goal comeback, kicked off a four-game winning streak for the Bandits.

Going back-to-back: This is the second time the Bandits have played two games in one weekend this season. This first go-around was a tremendous success, as Buffalo defeated New England on the road and Georgia at home to move into first place in the East Division.

Lucky you: The Bandits are giving out color-changing Bandits St. Patrick's Day cups to the first 5,000 fans in the door.

Standings update: Buffalo is in second place in the East Division, sitting a half game behind New England and a half game ahead of Rochester. The division is still incredibly tight, as the last-place Georgia Swarm are just two games back of first.

Fire away: Shawn Evans was active in his Bandits debut against the Mammoth. Unfortunately for Buffalo, that didn't translate to success. Evans shot 10 times, tied for the team lead, but missed six times and failed to score a goal. He didn't get much time to gel with his new teammates since he arrived at the Pepsi Centre just before game time due to travel issues.

First-year bests: Josh Byrne, who already owns the Bandits rookie record for assists, is nine goals away and seven points away from the franchise rookie record in both categories. Both records are currently held by Derek Keenan, now Saskatchewan's head coach.

Roundabout return: The Bandits signed defenseman Ryan Fournier, a rookie formerly of the Vancouver Stealth, on March 7. Coincidentally, Fournier was drafted by the Stealth with the second-round pick Buffalo sent to Vancouver as part of the Jordan Durston and Tony Malcom trade.

Fournier played five games with the Stealth, notching three goals and two assists, before being cut by the team on Feb. 23. Buffalo assigned Liam Patten to the practice roster to make room for Fournier.

Last chance: The matchup with the Swarm is Buffalo's last game action before Monday's trade deadline. Buffalo has already made three trades this season, acquiring Evans, Vaughn Harris and Thomas Hoggarth.

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