The New England Black Wolves dropped a physical battle in the first game of the East Division Finals to the Buffalo Bandits 15-10 on Monday evening.
Kyle Buchanan led the Black Wolves with five points on three goals and two assists while Pat Saunders also had a hat trick and one assist.
Dhane Smith led the Bandits with five goals to go along with two assists while Ryan Benesch had nine points with a hat trick and six assists. Alex Kedoh-Hill also had four goals for Buffalo.
Kevin Buchanan got things started, scoring just 1:45 into the game to put the Black Wolves up quickly. He was followed by Pat Saunders on the power play three minutes later, and Kyle Buchanan picked up his first of the night just 35 seconds later to make it 3-0.
The Bandits answered back, picked up three goals, including two on the power play, to tie it at 3-3 with 5:04 to play. Buffalo added two more to close out the quarter leading 5-4.
Shawn Evans got the scoring started just over a minute into the second quarter on the power play to cut the Bandits advantage to one, but Buffalo came back and increased their lead back to two 58 seconds later. Smith picked up his second goal of the night a minute later to put the Bandits up 7-3 with 12:51 left in the second.
Smith’s third put Buffalo up 8-4, but Saunders scored with 2:30 left in the half on the power play to get the Black Wolves back to within three at 8-5. That is how the half ended.
Buffalo rattled off three goals in the first four minutes, including one from Chad Culp just 33 second into play. Sheldon Burns scored on the transition with 10:30 left in the third to stop the bleeding for New England. That started a string of three straight goals for the Black Wolves to close out the third trailing 11-8.
After a defensive battle for the first six minutes of play in the fourth quarter, Kedoh-Hill picked up his fourth goal of the night to put Buffalo up 12-8. Despite another goal each from Saunders and Kyle Buchanan, New England did not get any closer. The fourth quarter also saw 10 penalties called, including two five-minute majors for fighting.
The second game of the three-game series will take place on Saturday, May 21st in Buffalo at the First Niagara Center. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m. and will be broadcast live on NLLTV.com.