Rochester Knighthawks fans responded by making the trip to Buffalo, but the Bandits responded on the scoreboard.
Buffalo avenged an overtime loss in Rochester earlier this season with a 13-9 victory at home on Friday. The victory in front of over 17,000 at HSBC Arena assures the Bandits of a home playoff game, as well as the chance to close in on the East Division title tomorrow in New York.
The Bandits got off to a fast start, with Billy Dee Smith scoring just over three minutes in to take the early lead. Roger Vyse scored just 59 seconds later to give the Bandits a 2-0 lead, which was narrowed by a Joe Walters goal around the seven minute mark.
Buffalo took that 2-1 lead into the second quarter, but saw Rochester score twice to take control of the game. The Bandits’ power play sputtered and gave up a Craig Point shorthanded goal to even the score, and Ken Millin gave the Knighthawks the lead with a tally just before the five minute mark of the second.
After the two teams traded goals once again (Tavares for Buffalo, McBride for Rochester), the Bandits took over, with goals from Sanderson, Accursi, and Steenhuis to end the half.
Buffalo took a 6-4 lead into halftime, but Rochester answered with three goals of their own to start the third quarter. Jason Henhawk notched a power play goal to cut the Bandit lead to one, and Rochester’s top two scorers, Shawn Evans and Shawn Williams, picked up consecutive goals to give the Knighthawks their second lead of the night. Overall the Bandits did a good job of limiting Rochester’s big guns, as Evans finished with three points (1+2) and Williams finished with four (2+2).
The Bandits finished off the third quarter with consecutive goals from Pat McCready and Mike Accursi to take back the lead, but the 8-7 score set up an exciting fourth quarter for the fans in attendance. Buffalo needed to close the door and get the home crowd involved, as a decent Rochester contingent made the trip down the 90 to see the game.
The crowd did get moving after a quick two goal outburst to start the fourth quarter. Cory Bomberry nets one just 90 seconds into the final frame, and 42 seconds later Vyse scores his second of the night to extend the Bandits lead to 10-7. The big start put Buffalo in the drivers seat, and they never looked back. Shawn Williams and Chris Schiller scored for Rochester, but goals from Vyse, Accursi, and an empty net goal from Tavares capped off the big win for Buffalo.
Tavares finished with five points (2+3) on the night, and three Bandits (McCready, Vyse, and Accursi) finished with four points. Marc Steenhuis also had three points (1+2), bringing his team-leading points total to 94.
Buffalo’s Ken Montour picked up the win in net, making 52 saves on 61 shots. Rochester goaltender Pat O’Toole took the loss, allowing 12 goals on just 44 shots.
The Bandits next game is Saturday night (4/11) at New York.