Uncasville – With first place in the East Division at stake on Friday night, the Buffalo Bandits scored three goals in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter to pull away for an 18-13 victory over the New England Black Wolves before 5,357 at Mohegan Sun Arena.
The Black Wolves were within 15-13 with 3:56 left when Buffalo’s Jordan Durston beat Aaron Bold. Goals by Dhane Smith and Kevin Brownell in the last two minutes cemented the win.
It was the first home loss of the season for New England (4-3), which dropped its second straight. The Bandits won their third straight, improving to 5-3 overall.
Kevin Crowley scored a goal in his 26th straight game, and finished with a season-high eight points on four goals and four assists. Shawn Evans had a season-high five goals with two assists while Stephan Leblanc had season highs of six assists and seven points with one goal.
Dhane Smith led Buffalo with four goals and also had an assist while Josh Byrne and three goals and a pair of assists. Callum Crawford had two goals and three assists, and Mitch Jones and Durston each had one goal and six assists.
Byrne scored just 13 seconds into the game, and he had a hat trick just five minutes into the second quarter. Crawford also had two goals as Buffalo built a 7-2 lead with just over nine minutes left in the first half.
But the Black Wolves rallied to within 8-6 at halftime on two goals each from Evans and Crowley. That New England surge carried over into the third quarter as Crowley, Evans, Leblanc and Kevin Buchanan each scored once in the first three minutes, 10 seconds of the third quarter to give New England a 10-8 lead.
But Smith scored twice to tie the game, sparking a five-goal Buffalo run. New England would get as close as 14-13 on a goal from Evans 8:05 into the fourth quarter. But Buffalo scored the last four goals to pull away late.
New England is home next Sunday, February 18th, hosting Colorado at 2 p.m.