By Tom Gallagher
Niagara Gazette — On the heels of a comeback win against first-place Toronto on Thursday, the Buffalo Bandits had a chance to take over sole possession of second place in the East Division with a win on Friday.
Instead, they found themselves on the other end of a comeback victory.
Jordan Hall tied the game just after the Bandits (5-4) killed off a penalty with four seconds left and Drew Westervelt scored early in overtime to lift the Philadelphia Wings (5-4) over the Bandits, 11-10, at First Niagara Center.
“We outplayed them,” Bandits’ coach Darris Kilgour said. “We should have won that game. It got taken away from us in the last two minutes of a close game.”
Kilgour expressed displeasure with the game’s officiating, particularly late. Leading by one with under two minutes to go, a controversial shot clock reset cost the Bandits possession.
“No explanation (from the officials),” Kilgour said. “No explanation on the hold on Luke Wiles coming out of the corner with 30 seconds left; no explanation on why there wasn’t a reset.
“You think at home we’d get a call.”
Despite his grievances with the officials, the Bandits benefited from a Wings’ parade to the penalty box all night long.
Buffalo scored five power-play goals – four in the first half. But after failing to capitalize on a flurry of power plays in the second half, the Wings crept back into the game.
Kilgour attributed the lack of second-half production to solid play by Wings’ goalie Brandon Miller and missed opportunities.
“Brandon Miller played really well,” he said. “We shot real stupid. (Miller) is lying on his back and we’re going to roll the ball on him? We had five open nets that we could have scored on and we didn’t.”
The Bandits sported a 6-2 lead at the half and seemed destined to cruise to their third straight division win. Instead, the Wings seized the season series (and playoff tiebreaker) between the teams.
“Now we’re closer to Toronto,” Wings’ head coach Johnny Mouradian said. “The key for us tonight was to obviously win the tiebreaker. We know that’s going to help us.”
Bandits’ leading scorer Shawn Williams paced the team’s offense, scoring twice and adding four assists. Luke Wiles had three goals and an assist. He has nine points in his last three games.
“It’s always good when you get production from guys,” Kilgour said in regards to Wiles’ recent offense. “We need some other guys to step up too.”
NLL all-time leading scorer John Tavares, in just his second game since returning from an injury, finished with three assists.
The Bandits will look to get back in the win column when they host the Colorado Mammoth at 7:30 on March 9.
“The next game’s always more important than the last game,” Kilgour said.