The Rochester Knighthawks (6-2) carried a 5-4 lead into halftime only to see it slip away on the heels of a second-half surge by the Buffalo Bandits (7-2), who erupted for seven third-quarter goals on their way to handing the Knighthawks a 13-10 loss Saturday at KeyBank Center.
With the loss, Rochester’s second straight after opening the season with six straight wins, the intrastate rivals split the season series with a win each.
Rochester forwards Connor Fields (3+4) and Ryan Smith (3+3) both led the offense with three goals each, while Curtis Knight (2+1) had himself a two-goal effort. Veteran forwards Thomas Hoggarth (1+0) and Holden Cattoni (1+3) added the other Knighthawks tallies on the night.
Knighthawks netminder Rylan Hartley (6-2) made his eighth straight start of the year, stopping 42 of the 55 shots he faced in his second loss of the 2022-23 campaign.
Reigning NLL MVP Dhane Smith (4+6) pieced together a 10-point night on four goals and six assists, while Dalton Sulver (2+0) and Brad McCulley (2+3) each scored twice in the win, which moved Buffalo into sole possession first place in the NLL’s Eastern Conference standings. Tehoka Nanticoke (1+3), Ian MacKay (1+2), Bryce Sweeting (1+0), Steve Priolo (1+2) and Brandon Robinson (1+2) all added the other tallies on the night for Buffalo.
Veteran goaltender Matt Vinc (7-2) appeared in his ninth game of the season, making 47 saves en route to his league-leading seventh win.
With 8:54 to go in the first frame, Sulver opened the scoring for Buffalo. On a pass from Robinson, Sulver sent a missile of a shot past Hartley to put the game 1-0 in Buffalo’s favor.
The Bandits maintained their one-goal lead for most of the quarter until the final two minutes when the Knighthawks answered with back-to-back goals.
And because he scored, here is a look at his first goal tonight 🤩 pic.twitter.com/EQOHJ9E7OS
— Rochester Knighthawks (@RocKnighthawks) February 5, 2023
After Buffalo’s Sweeting was sent off for slashing, Rochester capitalized on its first man-advantage opportunity of the game. Hoggarth claimed his first marker of the game before Smith put the Knighthawks ahead 2-1 with 19 seconds to go in the first period.
As the second ensued, the Knighthawks continued their five-goal run with two goals within the first minute of the frame.
Just 23 seconds into the second stanza, Fields, the former Bandit, fired in his first tally of the night before Knight followed up 27 seconds later. On a pass from Rees, Knight ran the ball through the center of Rochester’s offensive zone and fired a shot right past Vinc in the crease to put the Knighthawks up 4-1.
Fields followed up with his second goal of the game, and the frame, shortly after. As the Knighthawks embarked on their second power-play of the night, Ryan Smith and Fields exchanged passes across the offensive zone before Fields pushed another shot past Vinc.
It was a 3 Goal, 4 Assist night for Connor Fields as the Knighthawks fall to the Bandits 13-10
👀 HIGHLIGHTS pic.twitter.com/lRLn1bPE6t
— NLL (@NLL) February 5, 2023
Following nearly 20 minutes of inactivity, Dhane Smith revived the home team with back-to-back strikes to pull Buffalo within two with goals just 1:16 apart from one another. Sulver then closed out the quarter with his second of the game, bringing the Bandits within a goal entering the half.
As the second half got underway, the Bandits continued their comeback just 2:10 into the third quarter. Priolo tallied his first goal of the night by tying up the game 5-5 before Robinson and Buchanan continued Buffalo’s six-goal run with markers 22 seconds apart from one another to give Buffalo its first lead of the game.
Ryan Smith then pulled the Knighthawks back within one. On another connection between Fields and Smith in Rochester’s offensive zone, the pair would go back and forth once again before Smith rifled a shot over the head of three Bandits defenseman that handcuffed Vinc for his second of the night.
Buffalo then followed with another four-straight goals to pull ahead 11-6 before the end of the third frame.
The Knighthawks then went back-to-back as the final frame got underway.
Ryan Smith connected on another pass from Fields up the middle of the offensive zone and powered in his third tally of the night, before Fields followed up 29 seconds later on a spin move past a Buffalo defender to pull the Knighthawks within three.
The teams then went back and forth the rest of the game with two more goals each, with Buffalo ultimately prevailing with the 13-10 win.
The Knighthawks return home on Saturday, Feb. 11 when they host the Halifax Thunderbirds for the only time this season at Segar & Sciortino Field at The Blue Cross Arena. Opening face-off is slated for 7:00 p.m. and will be carried live on Big 107.3 FM as well as ESPN+.