For the second time in less than three weeks, the Vancouver Stealth (3-8) and Buffalo Bandits (7-4) will square off against each other. On March 5, the Bandits came into the Langley Events Centre and handed the Stealth a 13-8 loss in the first meeting of the season.
On Friday night, Vancouver will look to snap a four game losing skid, while Buffalo will try and extend their winning streak to four games. The Stealth are coming off a 24-16 defeat to the Saskatchewan Rush in week 12, while the Bandits were on a bye week.
“Last week was disappointing especially after how well we have been playing defensively the last few weeks. We have reviewed the film and feel confident in our adjustments going forward,” said Captain Curtis Hodgson.
Stealth Head Coach Jamie Batley saw some good things from his team last week and hopes it carries over against the Bandits.
“I was impressed with the way we battled back multiple times last game. The guys are learning a new system and it’s going to be a little bit of a learning curve for some players, and that is to be expected. Buffalo is a good team and we have to come ready to play,” said Batley.
The Stealth defense will once again face the NLL’s top scorer in Dhane Smith (42 goals, 49 assists, 91 points) and the league’s highest scoring team (152 goals for). Despite the loss last weekend, the Stealth offense was a bright spot putting up a season high 16 goals against the West Division’s best defensive squad and did that without the services of Logan Schuss and Garrett Billings.
“As a unit, we needed to get out there and work hard every time we took the floor, and I thought we did that. We owed it to the team to put up a good amount of goals and we accomplished that because we did a good job of sharing the ball,” said Joel McCready, who put up a career high of 8 points (5 goals, 3 assists).
Although wins have not been piling up on the road, it is not due to a lack of effort. The last four away from home have all been decided by three goals or less, with the last outing in Toronto being the largest margin of defeat in a 9-6 loss. At home this season, the Bandits have made First Niagara Center a tough place for opponents to play in with a 4-1 home record.
“Our team is looking forward to the opportunity to knock off one of the best teams in the league. We are really close to where we want to be and everyone in our room believes in each other. There are seven games left in the year, and if we want to get back on track, it starts with a full 60-minute effort in Buffalo,” finished McCready.
Game time is set for 7:30pm EST/4:30pm PST from First Niagara Center and can be seen live on Fox Sports GO (and will be streamed online at www.tsn1040.ca). The radio broadcast will replay at 9:30pm PST on TSN1410 in Vancouver.