The Buffalo Bandits wrapped up some unfinished regular season business in the National Lacrosse League on Saturday.
Buffalo’s 12-6 victory over the New England Black Wolves in the final regular season game at KeyBank Center and the Philadelphia Wings’ 19-14 victory at the Georgia Swarm assured the Bandits of first place in the Eastern Division of the NLL.
It means the Bandits (13-4) will be home for the division playoffs and face the Black Wolves (8-9) in the first round of postseason play.
The loss to Philadelphia in their regular season finale left the Swarm at 12-6. Toronto (11-6) has one game left at Vancouver on Friday and could tie Georgia in the standings, but the Swarm has the tiebreaker advantage and will be the No. 2 seed.
Buffalo never trailed the Black Wolves in the game played before 16,559 on Fan Appreciation Night at KeyBank Center. Nine different Bandits scored, led by three goals by Corey Small and two by Chris Cloutier. Dhane Smith had a five-point game for the Bandits with one goal and four assists. Small had an assist in addition to his two goals.
Although they never surrendered the lead, the Bandits let New England hang around. Buffalo scored three unanswered goals to take a 5-2 lead but it was only 5-4 after the opening quarter after two goals by Joe Resetarits, the Black Wolves’ star from Hamburg and the University at Albany.
The Bandits outscored New England, 3-1, in the second quarter to take an 8-5 lead into halftime, then limited the visitors to just one second-half goal on 26 shots on the net. Each side scored only once in the third which ended 9-6. Buffalo gained some breathing room on goals by Small and Ethan O’Connor early in the fourth.
Buffalo goalie Matt Vinc had 39 saves. The Bandits won 12 of 22 faceoffs with Chase Frazier winning 8 of 15. Goalie Doug Jamieson of the Black Wolves had 45 stops.
Nick Weiss, Josh Byrne, Thomas Hoggarth and Fraser had single goals for Buffalo. Byrne added three assists for a four-point night while Hoggarth and McKay had two assists.
Shawn Evans, the Bandits’ second-leading scorer with 86 points was not in the lineup. Smith increased his team-high point total to 96 points and has 31 goals. Small increased his total to 70 points with 34 goals. Hoggarth has 61 points.
Resetarits and Tyler Digby had two goals each for New England.