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NLL picks Bandits’ Vinc as league’s top goalie

The goaltending prowess of the Bandits’ Matt Vinc was a big part of the team’s franchise-record 14 wins last season and its deep playoff run.

On Thursday, the Canisius College graduate was rewarded by the league for his skill between the pipes with his seventh NLL Goaltender of the Year award in ten seasons and his second in a row.

Vinc led the league last season in goals-against average (10.02) and was second in save percentage (.803).

His 705 saves were second-most in Bandits history behind Anthony Cosmo, who had 752 in 2014. Vinc’s tally is also the fifth-most saves in a season in NLL history.

On January 5 against Rochester, he broke Cosmo’s all-time league saves record of 7,222. The St. Catharines, Ontario native has 7,823 stops to his name after the 2018-2019 season.

Vinc surpassed hall-of-famer Steve Dietrich’s franchise wins record with 14 last season. Dietrich, now the Bandits general manager, set the record in 2003 with 11 victories in net.

If that weren’t enough, he owns the league records in regular season wins (112) and minutes in net (11,996).

Vinc is the first Bandits goaltender to be named GOTY since Ken Montour earned it in 2009. No other goalie in league history has won the award more than twice.

While the 37-year-old has much talent, his teammates know there’s more to him than just pure skill.

“He’s first-class as a player. He’s got a lot of natural ability and skill as a goaltender, but the work he puts in off the floor is second to none,” forward Corey Small told Bandits.com.

“He puts in a lot of extra hours away from the arena to prepare and study the team he’s playing. I’ve never seen anyone prepare as well as he does,” Small said.

Chris Cloutier, who was acquired from Philadelphia in February, praised Vinc’s leadership abilities on Bandits.com.

“Anything he can do to help anyone, whether it be offense, helping guys out to shoot better or how to trick goalies better or defense, talking to guys in net, letting guys know where they should be. He’s an amazing guy to have on your team,” Cloutier said.

Bandits fans can look forward to two more seasons with Vinc between the pipes. Buffalo signed him to a three-year deal in November 2018 after he entered free agency.

He was drafted sixth overall by the San Jose Stealth (now the Vancouver Warriors) in 2006 after a successful career as a defenseman at Canisius. Vinc was inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2015.

Vinc isn’t the only member of the Bandits’ organization to earn league praises. Dietrich was honored as the league’s General Manager of the Year on Monday after the team’s turnaround from last place to a championship contender.

He was responsible for signing Vinc, as well as Small and Cloutier, in the offseason.

In other Bandits news, the team also announced Thursday that transition player Ethan O’Connor has been signed to a one-year deal pending league approval.

O’Connor saw action in all 18 regular season Bandits games last season, where he netted six goals and 13 assists.

The former first round pick of the Toronto Rock also tied a career-high by recording three points in games against Colorado and Calgary in the regular season.

O’Connor also played in the Bandits’ playoff run and recorded one assist and scooped up 10 ground balls.

The 27-year-old was traded to Buffalo from Georgia before the 2018-19 season for a 2021 third-round and a 2019 fourth-round draft pick.

He has played 103 career games over seven seasons, with 20 goals and 36 assists over that time.

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