Buffalo Bandits head coach Darris Kilgour asked for a full 60 minutes from his team. They got the message and delivered.
Buffalo dominated the Portland LumberJax on both sides of the floor, notching a 14-4 win on Saturday night in front of over 17,000 at HSBC Arena. The Bandits were relentless on defense, holding Portland to just 38 shots and giving goaltender Ken Montour plenty of help in the defensive zone. The win snaps a two game losing steak for the Bandits, who are now 8-3 on the season.
“We needed to get confidence back,” said Bandits head coach Darris Kilgour. “I thought we did that tonight. We did an excellent job controlling play.”
Forward John Tavares led the way for Buffalo with seven points (3+4), and Mark Steenhuis (1+5) and Cory Bomberry (3+3) each had six points.
Buffalo scored just 13 seconds into the game when Mark Steenhuis scored from long range. Portland answered with goals from Tim Campeau and Peter Morgan to make it 2-1 early in the first quarter, but John Tavares and Cory Bomberry netted goals to make it 3-2 Bandits after one.
Things slowed down in the second quarter, with only three goals scored between the two teams. Portland’s Derek Malawsky scored 4:35 into the quarter to tie the game, but it would be the LumberJax last goal of the half. Buffalo’s Cory Bomberry and Roger Vyse each had power play goals to close out the half for the Bandits.
Portland’s size and strong defense kept the Bandits to the outside early, forcing a number of shot clock violations and limiting their scoring chances. Buffalo was forced to take a number of long shots, but capitalized on the power play, going 3 for 6 in the half to take a 5-3 lead after 30 minutes.
“We were shooting from the outside and pulled them out and get them running around,” said Bandits forward Cory Bomberry. “They are a big team and it paid off that we wore down their defense.”
The start of the third quarter was a continuation of the first half, with very few chances for either team and strong defense on both sides. Cory Conway notched his 14th goal of the season at the 5:46 mark of the third quarter, drawing Portland within one.
From there the Bandits exploded, scoring nine straight goals to put the game away. The crucial moment came after Mike Accursi scored to make it 6-4. Portland’s Luke Forget took a five minute major cross checking penalty, and a Portland bench minor for unsportsmanlike conduct gave the Bandits an extended 5 on 3 power play.
Buffalo would use this power play to start working inside the Portland defense, scoring twice and frustrating the LumberJax with the constant pressure. The power play goals from Tavares and Bomberry gave Buffalo the 8-4 lead, and another Tavares goal at the 13:44 mark of the third quarter looked to put the Bandits up for good.
“It’s a game of runs,” said Bandits goaltender Ken Montour, who was named the game’s second star. “You have to trust your team will make a run.”
On the subsequent faceoff, Buffalo’s Brandon Francis squared off with Portland’s Brodie Merrill, bringing the HSBC Arena crowd to its feet. The crowd really got going when Bandits defenseman Billy Dee Smith then fought with David Morgan; earning both players game misconducts.
Buffalo poured it on late, scoring five times in the 4th quarter while limiting Portland to few scoring chances altogether. Sean Greenhalgh scored twice in the final frame, while Thomas Montour, Roger Vyse, and John Tavares added a goal each for Buffalo.
Portland seemed to take exception to the late goals, as the game was well in hand by then. However, Bandits coach Kilgour said that’s exactly what he wants to see from his team.
“I’ve said it earlier in the season and I’ll say it again: it’s up to the other team to come in here and play 60 minutes,” Kilgour said. “If they want to quit with ten minutes left, that’s on them. We’re going to keep going, we’re not going to change our attitude, and we’re not going to change the way we play.”
Buffalo goaltender Ken Montour made 34 saves on 38 shots, good for his sixth win of the season.
“Tonight Kenny (Montour) had an easy night, and I thought that was the best defensive game we’ve played in a long time,” Kilgour said.
Notes: Buffalo tied a franchise record for fewest goals allowed in a game (4). Buffalo went 6 for 11 on the power play, while Portland was 0 for 3. Buffalo outshot Portland 50-38. Buffalo’s next game is Saturday (3/28) against the New York Titans.