A six-goal run by the first-place Buffalo Bandits (8-1) to start the second half ultimately proved to be the difference as the Rochester Knighthawks (3-6) were unable to close the gap in a 14-8 loss Saturday night at Segar & Sciortino Field at The Blue Cross Arena.
Knighthawks rookie forward Ryan Smith (3+1) recorded his second home hat trick of the season while leading the offense with four points. Forwards Turner Evans (1+2) and Holden Cattoni (1+2) both recorded three-point efforts with a goal and an assist apiece, while Charlie Bertrand (1+0), Thomas Hoggarth (1+1) and Matt Gilray (1+0) provided Rochester’s other tallies on the night. Veteran forward Shawn Evans (0+2) recorded a multi-assist effort with a pair to bring his season total to a team-leading 34.
Goaltender Rylan Hartley (2-5) made his seventh straight start but suffered the loss while making 35 saves.
WATCH: GAME HIGHLIGHTS
Bandits forwards Dhane Smith (3+5), Connor Fields (3+1) and Tehoka Nanticoke (3+0) all tacked on three goals, while forward Josh Byrne (0+8) produced a season-high eight-assist effort. Forward Kyle Buchanan (1+1) had a multi-point night with a goal and an assist, while transition players Ian MacKay and Max Adler and defenseman Justin Robinson tallied the rest of Buffalo’s markers.
Veteran netminder Matt Vinc (8-1) made his ninth straight start for Buffalo, playing every second in the crease for his team this season. Vinc went on to make 52 saves on the 60 shots he faced to propel him to his eighth win, which leads the National Lacrosse League.
WATCH: RYAN SMITH POST-GAME
With the game being a one-goal affair to begin the second half, the Bandits offense erupted for six straight goals, which included three in the third quarter to cushion their lead to 11-4 just 3:40 into in the final quarter.
Dhane Smith opened the six-goal run as he netted his second of the night 3:12 into the second half from Byrne before the duo closed the stretch early in the fourth.
WATCH: TURNER EVANS POST-GAME
After being shutout in the third quarter and outshot 11-9, Rochester countered back with four unanswered goals to pull within three with just under six minutes left in regulation. Bertrand kicked off the four-goal run before Smith scored twice to complete his hat trick.
Feeling the pressure of the home team and the score sitting at 11-8, Buffalo finished off the scoring as they added the final three goals from Nanticoke, Fields and Adler.
WATCH: PAUL DAWSON POST-GAME
In the first quarter of the matchup, the two clubs exchanged goals four times before the Bandits grabbed their first two-goal lead at the 8:04 mark of the first quarter.
Turner Evans brought the Knighthawks within one from Cattoni and Shawn Evans as he capped off the scoring with 2:44 left in the frame.
During the second quarter, despite the clubs combining for 26 shots and eight penalty minutes, Fields and Cattoni each scored for their respective teams in the only two markers in the stanza.
WATCH: MIKE HASEN POST-GAME
In the final 30 minutes of the contest, the Knighthawks were outscored 9-4 despite holding a 26-20 shot-advantage and eventually suffering a 14-8 loss.
The Knighthawks are back in action on Friday, March 4 as they travel south to wrap up their season series against Lyle Thompson and the Georgia Swarm at Gas South Arena. Game time is slated for a 7:30 p.m. start and will be carried live on The Bull 107.3 FM as well as ESPN+. Fans can stay up to date all season long with the latest news, stories and notes at www.rochesterknighthawks.com.