Niagara Gazette

Sports

February 8, 2013

Bandits look to avoid losing streak

Niagara Gazette — Something has to give tomorrow night at the First Niagara Center.

The Buffalo Bandits (3-2) haven’t been playing much defense this year, but poor defensive efforts have been covered up by a potent offense.

They currently rank third-last in the National Lacrosse League in goals against per game with 13 and goaltender Anthony Cosmo has been inconsistent. They've kept afloat by netting at least 12 goals in each of their last four games, winning three of them.

Tomorrow will be a big test for the Bandits, as they take on the defending NLL champion Rochester Knighthawks at 7:30 p.m. Despite Rochester’s record of 2-3, they have allowed the least amount of goals per game in the league. They also come in having won two straight, including doubling up the Wings, 20-10, in Philadelphia Friday afternoon.

If the Knighthawks’ stingy defensive play — led by goaltender Matt Vinc — continues tomorrow night, the Bandits could find themselves on a two-game skid. Vinc is second among goalies that have played at least 100 minutes in goals against average.

That, coupled with captain John Tavares missing his second straight game due to injury, will make it tough for the Bandits’ offense to bail out the defense again. However, they had no trouble scoring on one of the league’s hottest goalies in Toronto’s Nick Rose last game.

Buffalo lost Toronto at home last week, 14-12, due in large part to a pair of five-minute major penalties and an inability to come up with a defensive stop when needed. Both have been continuing issues all year.

"We need to play a little bit smarter and clean up our defensive side of the door,” Bandits coach Darris Kilgour said during the weekly NLL coaches conference call. "I'm still happy with what the offense is doing. So we're still a work in progress."

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