January 15, 2011

Big Hits, Penalties Mark Buffalo Win

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by Alex Lee | NLL.com

The Buffalo Bandits (1-1) defeated the Philadelphia Wings (0-2) 9-6 on Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia in a physical game that featured excellent goaltending and a lot of penalties.

Bandits forward John Tavares and goaltender Mike Thompson starred in the win, evening Buffalo's record at 1-1 on the season. Tavares contributed three goals and three assists while Thompson had 39 saves. Chad Culp (2 goals) and Tracey Kelusky (1 goal, 2 assists) also were key for the Bandits.

The game was physical throughout. The teams combined for several big hits and a combined 35 penalty minutes. Despite both sides constantly playing a man down, the Bandits managed the only power play goal of the game when Frank Resetarits netted his second goal of the season early in the fourth quarter to give the Bandits a 6-3 lead.

"I thought our defense was unbelievable and we pressured them all game long," said Tavares. "Mike Thompson played a great game and we scored when we had to. It was a tight checking game. Give them credit; they hung around for a long time. It was a big win for us tonight."

Bandits' Head Coach Darris Kilgour beamed after his team's performance. "I can't speak enough about the defense," said Kilgour. "We were a man short a lot there in the second quarter and I don't think we gave up a power play goal all night. Mike Thompson was absolutely solid in the net and our offense scored some very timely goals to get us a lead in the second half. All around I think we played really well."

The Bandits lost a tough game last week in Calgary. But after a strong second half against the Roughnecks, it would appear that the Bandits are really starting to come together.
"When you look at it, you had two games on the road and you're 1-1. It would be great to be 2-0 but we have nothing to worry about because we're playing great right now," said Tavares.

Meanwhile, the loss drops Philadelphia to 0-2 for the first time since the 2007 season. That year they finished with a 6-10 record and missed the playoffs.

One of the few bright spots in the game for the Wings was the continued solid play of goaltender Brandon Miller. Miller faced 50 shots on the night, saving 41 and keeping the Wings in the game. The Wings' offense was once again inconsistent and Miller faced constant pressure.

Athan Iannucci and Drew Westervelt both had a pair of goals and Iannucci added two assists. But coaches and players agreed after the game that the offense has to get going for the Wings to turn this season around.

"I think that we have to be more consistent with our patterns and driving the middle," said Philadelphia Head Coach John Tucker. "We sometimes become a perimeter team and tonight was the same thing. The first half I think we did a good job of moving the ball but we had too many unforced turnovers and playing on the outside hurt us."

"The same thing repeated itself from week one to week two," added goalie Brandon Miller. "We have got to be better offensively. You try to do your part and hopefully you get a win. We obviously haven't done that yet. We have to get desperate and try to get one in Colorado."

Tucker expressed confidence in his team after the loss and thought they played better tonight than in their week one loss.

"I think it will be good for our guys to go on the road. I'm confident and really believe in my heart that we will get better each week," said Tucker. "Getting the first win is always the most difficult. So we will keep battling, get there, and get on a roll. It's a long season. We will see if we can't get this ship righted.

Opening with two home losses was not how Philadelphia envisioned their season starting but Tucker is right in that the season is still young. The Wings played hard throughout the game but they need that effort to begin to translate into wins before they dig themselves a hole that they cannot get out of.

"You can't get off to a slow start in this league with only 16 games but obviously we have with two tough losses." said Miller.

Philadelphia will travel to Colorado next week to play their first road game of the season against the Mammoth at 9 p.m. Eastern on Saturday night. Buffalo also plays on Saturday, when they host the Toronto Rock at 7:30 p.m.

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