These instate rivals have played some heated games over the decades, but when they matchup Saturday night it will be even more intense as the Battle for Western New York will feature Matt Vinc playing against his former team for the first time as a Bandit.
The Buffalo Bandits sit at 2-1 after beating Vancouver convincingly last weekend without Dhane Smith or Corey Small.
Rochester won their first game of the season against Philadelphia last Saturday in a dominant performance at home to start 1-0 on the season.
This game will be huge for both teams as they look to get on win streaks early in the season.
Buffalo Bandits’ Keys to the Game
- Matt Vinc needs to have a big night facing his old teammates. Vinc will know the shooting tendencies of the Knighthawks star players like Cody Jameison, Kyle Jackson, and Cory Vitarelli who he has played with for years. There will be some bad blood and Vinc needs to use it to his advantage.
- The return of Dhane Smith and Corey Small. It was confirmed today that Dhane Smith was moved back to the active roster and that Corey Small will also be in the lineup tonight as well. This is huge and Smith’s presence will transform the the way the Bandits offense plays.
- Shooters gotta shoot and by shooters, I mean Shawn Evans, Josh Bryne, and the whole offense need to keep putting up a lot of goals like they have their past 3 games. The emergence of Thomas Hoggarth has also brought another presence in front getting to the dirty areas for the Bandits. We will have to wait and see if Corey Small or Zach Herreweyers gets the call on the left side.
- Disrupting Jake Withers will be crucial to the Bandits getting on the runs they want and stopping the Knighthawks from getting on their own big runs. Withers can win draws to himself or to his teammates and is a threat to score right off of them. Chase Fraser and Ian MacKay did a good job of mucking it up with Trevor Baptiste of Philadelphia so they may be able to contain Withers as well.
- Consistent communication on defense will be huge in stopping the Knighthawks talented offense. The Bandits defense looked much better against Vancouver and very few lapses like they had in their two previous games.
The Buffalo Bandits continue their home stand and might get a boost in attendance now that the holidays are at a close. There will also likely be a good contingent of Rochester fans who make the short trip to Buffalo so it will be a great atmosphere for a rivalry lacrosse game.