New Additions Pay Off For Buffalo
Rock's Manning breaks collar bone in loss
from press release
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bandits used their off-season to improve the offense and their moves proved to pay dividends in the team's season opener Saturday night.
Luke Wiles, acquired in a trade with Washington, scored a second half hat trick to lead the Bandits (1-0) to a 14-10 win over their divisional rival, the Toronto Rock (0-2) at First Niagara Center. Wiles wasn't the only new Bandit to get on the score sheet. Mat Giles and Kevin Buchanan each added a pair of goals in their Bandits' debuts.
The Bandits also received a stellar game from their starting goaltender, Mike Thompson. With 46 saves, head coach Darris Kilgour called a stick save on Dan Carey in the third quarter the turning point of the game.
"I thought that really picked our bench up and the boys really wanted to pull one out for Mikey," Kilgour said. "I thought he played one of the best games I've ever seen as a Bandit. Without him, it would've been a completely different game."
Eight different Bandits scored in the game including Scott Self, John Tavares, Mark Steenhuis, Tracey Kelusky and Chad Culp. Even with the balanced scoring, Tavares led the team in scoring with a goal and seven assists.
"That's exactly what we wanted when we made the changes. We wanted more balanced scoring," Kilgour said. "We didn't want to be Johnny and Mark, Johnny and Mark. We wanted to spread it around and that's exactly what we got tonight. Hopefully, that carries throughout the season."
In the loss, Toronto forward Blaine Manning broke his left collar bone in a corner scrum and will be out six to eight weeks, Rock coach Troy Cordingley said after the game.
Trailing 6-5 at halftime, the Bandits came back out in the third quarter to score the next three goals to take an 8-6 lead. The Rock were able to rally and tie the game, but Buffalo stepped on the gas and scored the next five goals to take a 13-8 lead.
"Come the fourth quarter, I'm hopefully going to have energy and be the one who's still attacking the net. I attack the net early. My shots really didn't fall, but they fell late in the game which is when the game's on the line," Wiles said.
Buffalo plays the Rock twice more this season with the next game on March 16 in Toronto. The Bandits next game is Friday when they travel to Rochester to take on the Nighthawks at 7:30 p.m.
"It's just one game right now. We gotta keep playing well. I know we'll have a tough game in Rochester... We just gotta keep getting better each week," Self said.
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