The Buffalo Bandits showed no signs of fatigue after taking a bus home from their game in Connecticut Friday night, defeating the defending National Lacrosse League champion Georgia Swarm, 18-9, on Saturday. Buffalo held onto the top spot in the East Division with the victory.
Buffalo's Josh Byrne and Callum Crawford each had three goals and three assists. Jordan Durston had two goals and five assists and Mitch Jones had one goal and six assists.
The Bandits took over at the start of the second quarter, scoring six straight over eight minutes to take a 10-2 lead.
Turn up the heat: Byrne, the first-overall pick in this year's draft, has 11 goals and 17 points in the last three games.
Changes in net: Buffalo opted to switch goalies due to playing back-to-back games. Zach Higgins got his first start as a Bandit, making 54 saves on 63 shots.
Georgia pulled starter Mike Poulin after Crawford scored to make it 9-2 Bandits with 8:49 remaining in the second quarter. Warren Hill replaced him for the rest of the first half. The Swarm made the same switch in the second half, as Poulin returned after the break only to be pulled again.
The streak: The Bandits have won four straight for the first time since the 2016 season, when the team won six straight from Feb. 26 to April 9. Buffalo also tied its win total from last year. The Bandits finished in last in the East Division in 2017 with a 6-12 record.
A keen eye: Bandits coach Troy Cordingley won a pair of challenges in the first quarter, one adding a goal for Buffalo and the other taking a goal away from Georgia.
The first came with 9:53 left in the opening quarter, as Byrne lept into the top of the crease and beat Poulin with a bounce shot. The referees deemed the ball hit the net before Byrne landed. Three and a half minutes later, a Kiel Matisz goal was called off after a challenge because his toes were on the line as he lept into the crease.
The new guy: Thomas Hoggarth played in both games for the Bandits this weekend after being acquired in a trade with the Vancouver Stealth on Monday. That's no surprise, as Buffalo General Manager Steve Dietrich said he expects Hoggarth to be an every-day player for the Bandits.
"Thomas is going to be a guy just like Kevin Brownell and Nick Weiss," Dietrich said. "Guys that can play solid defense, but also if they head up the floor have great stick skills and can score in transition."
Buffalo had its eyes on Hoggarth, a Lakeland, Ont. native, for a while. Dietrich said his name was brought up last season, as the Bandits and Stealth worked on a trade that eventually became Jordan Durston for Tony Malcom.
"They were always very reluctant to move Thomas," Dietrich said. "They're one of the teams that I like dealing with because they're pretty fair. ... There's no bantering too because they don't have many eastern guys. ... When you're dealing with Vancouver, there's a short group of guys that you really have interest in."
At the X: Vaughn Harris has played in every Bandits game since being inserted into the lineup against the Stealth on Jan. 13. He has five goals and eight assists in five games and led the team in faceoff attempts the past four games, including Saturday.
Up Next: The Bandits have next weekend off, but return to action Feb. 24 with a home game against the Rochester Knighthawks. The KHawks put a beating on the Bandits in the teams' first meeting, a 21-11 result at Blue Cross Arena. Buffalo bounced back last week, defeating Rochester 16-14 on the road thanks to an 11-point performance from Dhane Smith.
Story topics: buffalo bandits