The Buffalo Bandits welcomed Philadelphia back to the National Lacrosse League with a 17-15 victory over the Wings before an opening day crowd of 11,023 on Saturday afternoon at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
Although the Bandits led nearly the entire game, it was not easy. They needed a goal by Shawn Evans with 1:05 left to pull out the victory after Philadelphia had tied the game at 15 on Brett Hickey’s goal with 4:40 left.
It was the seventh point of the game for veteran forward from Peterborough, Ont. and his 404th NLL career goal since he broke in with Rochester in 2006.
Defender Steve Priolo added an empty-net goal for Buffalo with 9 seconds left. Then, the Wings went into their Broad Street Bullies mode. Chet Koneczny of the Wings instigated a fight with Mitch DeSnoo of the Bandits with 4 seconds left. Both players received 5-minute fighting majors. Koneczny also drew a 2-minute instigator penalty and a game
In all, Buffalo scored four power-play goals in seven opportunities while Philadelphia was shut out in two power plays.
Thomas Hoggarth of the Bandits scored 30 seconds into the game with assists from Dhane Smith and Evans to get things started. Philadelphia tied the game at 4-all, but trailed 11-9 at halftime and didn’t even the score again until Hickey’s tally
made it 15-15.
Corey Small had five goals and an assist for Buffalo. Hoggarth scored three times while Smith, Priolo and Evans had two goals each.
Veteran goalie Matt Vinc stopped 36 of the 51 shots for Buffalo. Doug Buchan and Davide DiRuscio split the goaltending for Philadelphia, Buchan saved 14 of 24 shots in 22:02 minutes. DiRuscio had 25 saves in 31 chances in 37:57.
Josh Currier had three goals for the Wings, who returned to the NLL after a six-year absence. Before the game the Wings hoisted six championship banners won before the Original Wings were relocated to New England. The Wings were reincarnated as an expansion franchise for 2018-19.
The Bandits defeated the Wings to win their first Major Indoor Lacrosse League championship in 1992. That began a string of years (1992-96) where either Buffalo or Philadelphia won the championship.
Buffalo’s home opener will be at 7:30 p.m. on Friday against the Toronto Rock at KeyBank Center.