Game Preview - Halifax @ Buffalo

Mar 9, 2023

HFX-BUF Preview

After meeting in Halifax a week ago, the Halifax Thunderbirds and Buffalo Bandits run it back on Friday night, wrapping up their season series at KeyBank Center. Opening face-off is set for 8:30 p.m. AT. 

Scouting the Thunderbirds

The Thunderbirds continue to get an even amount of production from their forwards through the halfway point in the year.

Randy Staats (19G, 39A) and Clarke Petterson (17G, 37A) pace the team offensively, sitting first and second in scoring for Halifax, respectively. Ryan Benesch (20G, 30A) had another record-setting night in The Nest last weekend, scoring three goals and adding an assist, becoming only the sixth player in league history to reach the 500-goal plateau in the process. 

The matchup at the stripe will be one to watch again this weekend as Jake Withers goes head-to-head with Max Adler. The two battled last weekend, with Withers getting a slight advantage, winning 12 of 23 draws on the night. Face-offs will once again be pivotal to the outcome of this game, as both offences have the ability to explode for big games. 

Warren Hill played arguably his best game of the season last week, turning away 41 shots while stopping a number of high-danger scoring chances. He sits with an 11.35 goals-against average and a .770 save percentage on the season to date. 

Scouting the Bandits

The Bandits were able to grind out a win last weekend in Halifax, in large part due to a strong second-half showing from Dhane Smith (27G, 60A). He and Ian MacKay each finished with three goals and five points on the night, while Tehoka Nanticoke had a behind-the-back finish in the fourth quarter to help seal the win. 

When it comes to the Bandits, the big question this week will be the respective statuses of forwards Josh Byrne and Chase Fraser. Byrne was activated last week but was placed back on IR ahead of the game in Halifax. Before going down with an injury, the lefty sat second league-wide in scoring behind only Smith. Fraser has yet to play this year, but after signing a one-year deal, he’s on the evaluation list, giving the Bandits a window to officially activate him. 

Fraser has become a finisher for the Bandits during his four-year tenure with the organization. Last year, he finished with a career-high in both goals (32) and points (56). 

If Byrne and Fraser return, expect MacKay to return to his regular transition role, where he’ll continue to be a thorn in the side of teams in transition. 

In goal, Matt Vinc had a 43-save performance to earn his ninth win on the campaign. The veteran has a 10.40 GAA and a .800 save percentage. 

Milestone Watch

  • Ryan Benesch needs eight assists to reach 700 for his career…needs eight points to reach 1,200 for his career
  • David Brock needs one point to reach 100 for his career
  • Clarke Petterson needs four loose ball recoveries to reach 200 for his career

Broadcast Info

Fans can catch the Thunderbirds in action this week on the TSN App in Canada and ESPN+ in the United States.

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