Buffalo, NY – Evan Kirk had 48 saves and Pat Saunders, Josh Johnson and Mark Cockerton each scored twice as the New England Black Wolves defeated the Buffalo Bandits 12-11 on Saturday evening at the First Niagra Center.
The Black Wolves (4-8) snapped a three-game losing streak with the victory. In his second game with New England, Garrett Billings had four points with one goal and three assists. The Bandits (7-7) were led by Ryan Benesch with seven points on five goals and two assists.
Kyle Buchanan got the scoring started right away for New England, finding the back of the net just 41 seconds into play to put the Black Wolves up 1-0. Two minutes later Pat Saunders scored with assists from Kyle Buchanan and Brett Bucktooth to give New England the quick 2-0 advantage. Mark Steenhuis scored for Buffalo at the 8:44 mark in the frame to cut the Black Wolves advantage to one, but Billings picked up his second goal in a New England uniform to give the Black Wolves a 3-1 lead at the end of the first.
Buffalo scored twice in the first three minutes of the second frame to tie the score at three all, but Bucktooth scored just over five minutes in to put New England back up by one. That score would hold throughout the quarter, giving the Black Wolves a 4-3 advantage at halftime.
The third quarter saw a flurry of scoring. The Bandits got it started on a shot by Benesch 5:20 in to tie the score again, but Cockerton found the back of the goal just over a minute later to put New England back on top by one. Buffalo tied it up again, but the Black Wolves rattled off three goals in a row to take a 8-5 lead just over 11 minutes into the third. Two of those goals, one by Johnson and the other by Kevin Buchanan, were separated by just nine seconds. That is the fastest two goals in team history.
However, Buffalo would cut the score to 8-7 on goals from Dhane Smith and Jerome Thomson before Saunders picked up his second goal of the game to keep New England ahead by two goals, 9-7, heading into the fourth.
Brett Manney picked up his third goal of the season 1:23 into the fourth to put New England up by three, After another goal by Benesch to cut into the New England advantage, Mike Manley and Johnson each scored as well for the Black Wolves in the first five minutes to put the advantage at four. The Bandits then rattled off three goals in three minutes, including two from Benesch, to cut the lead to one, 12-11, at the 10:22 mark. The New England defense held on in the closing minutes to seal the one-goal victory.
Saunders picked up an assist to go along with his two goals for three points on the night, as did Cockerton. Steenhuis had four assists for the Bandits along with one goal for five points while John Tavares had one goal and three assists for four points.
The 48 saves recorded by Kirk in the victory is his second-highest total of the season, just behind the 50 he had in the first matchup between the two squads on January 2nd. That was also a New England victory. Anthony Cosmo took the loss in between the pipes for Buffalo, recording 33 saves.
The Black Wolves will be in action next on Sunday, April 12th when they take on the Vancouver Stealth at Mohegan Sun Arena. Game time is set for 1 p.m.