Josh Byrne scored four goals and two assists as the Buffalo Bandits defeated the New England Black Wolves, 14-11, on Saturday night in front of 13,709 fans in KeyBank Center.
With the win, Buffalo separated itself from the four East Division teams tied atop the division at 7-7.
Buffalo's Shawn Evans had a goal and six assists, while Dhane Smith had a goal and five helpers. Mitch Jones scored twice and added an assist.
Seesaw game: Buffalo scored the first five goals of the game, dominating in all facets of the game. The Black Wolves got outshot 19-12 in the first quarter, but Kevin Crowley gave New England life. He scored twice in the final 2:05 of the first frame to cut Buffalo's lead to 5-2.
Crowley continued to be the focal point for New England in the second. He scored two more, including the equalizer that made it 7-7 with 4:40 remaining in the first half. The Black Wolves outscored Buffalo, 5-3, in the second, but a deep bouncer from Byrne gave the Bandits an 8-7 lead going into the break.
Buffalo scored the only goal of the third quarter, but New England tied the game at nine three minutes into the fourth. The Bandits separated themselves by scoring three of the final four goals of the game.
See you later: Saturday's matchup ended the three-game regular season series between Buffalo and New England. The Bandits won all three of the teams' meetings the season.
Good going, kid: With his four goals, Byrne is now three away from breaking Derek Keenan's franchise record for rookie goals. Byrne already has bested the previous Buffalo marks for rookie assists and points.
"The guys before me, they were doing it with a lot less games," Byrne pointed out Saturday morning at shoot-around. The National Lacrosse League schedule was only eight games when Keenan set the record in 1992.
Still, he's excited to etch his name in the record books of one of the longest-running franchises in the league.
"I'm super happy to be with Buffalo, so to be doing that is definitely an honor to do for this great city," Byrne said.
Roll the highlight film: Jordan Durston has been highlighted frequently on NLL TV's Versus series, which pits the best play of the week against last week's winner. He went into last week's episode a three-time champion, and while that matchup's results haven't been announced, there's a chance he'll be competing against himself. Durston scored a nifty behind-the-back goal to give Buffalo a 7-4 lead in the second quarter.
Welcome back: Callum Crawford played his first game in KeyBank Center since Buffalo traded him to New England for Shawn Evans on Feb 28. He notched a goal and two assists.
Injury updates: Bandits forward Craig England did not play due to a detached retina, which he suffered during a fight earlier this season. He was placed on injured reserve Saturday and is out indefinitely.
Taking his place in the lineup was rookie Chase Fraser, who has been a healthy scratch since Buffalo acquired Evans.
"It's obviously been a little bit rough not getting into the lineup," Fraser said. "Finally getting another chance to do it, hopefully I get to prove people right."
Fraser scored three goals and two assists, pushing his totals to eight goals and five assists in seven games.
Backup goalie Davide DiRuscio participated in Saturday morning's shoot-around, but he's still not ready to return to game action due to a hamstring injury. The Bandits will have a decision to make once he returns to full health. They won't be able to place him on the practice roster due to the post-trade deadline roster freeze, meaning either he or Zach Higgins would likely be released.
Transition player Ryan Fournier was taken off injured reserve but was a healthy scratch for Buffalo.
Hat streak: Crowley scored five goals for New England, extending his streak of hat tricks to five games. He also has scored at least a goal in 33 straight games.
New England debut: Defenseman Dylan Evans played his first game with the Black Wolves Saturday. He was signed by New England on Tuesday after being cut by the Rochester Knighthawks last week Saturday.
Up next: The Bandits are off next week for their final bye week of the year. They return the week after to play their last away game of the season on April 14 against the Calgary Roughnecks. Buffalo is 2-3 against the West Division but did beat the Roughnecks, 13-8, at home back on Jan. 6.