BUFFALO, N.Y. (December 30, 2022) – The Halifax Thunderbirds (2-1) dropped their final contest of 2022 with an 18-13 loss to the Buffalo Bandits (2-1) in KeyBank Center.
A power play marker from Chris Boushy opened the scoring, but Josh Byrne quickly evened the score. Byrne scored another shorthanded marker, answering Halifax's second goal by Randy Staats, and the first quarter ended with the two teams tied at two apiece.
The lead swung back the Thunderbirds’ way with their first-round selection in the 2022 NLL Entry Draft, Wake:Riat BowHunter, netting a power-play goal, the first professional goal for the 2022 12th overall selection. Captain Cody Jamieson would follow suit a few minutes later, putting the Thunderbirds up 4-2.
The Bandits responded with two more shorthanded goals, another from Byrne and from Tehoka Nanticoke. Ryan Benesch retaliated with a power play goal of his own, but the Bandits answered back, taking the lead off of Byrne’s fourth of the game. Clarke Petterson, Jamieson, and Staats kept answering back, and the two teams went to the locker room tied 8-8.
A quick and relentless start in the third quarter put the Bandits up 13-8. Austin Shanks was able to thread the needle by Matt Vinc’s right elbow late in the third frame, and Boushy’s hard-nosed wraparound in transition capped the quarter with the Thunderbirds down 13-10.
Byrne opened the final 15 minutes with his seventh of the night. Staats and Jamieson recorded hat tricks to bring the game within two. A pair of Bandits' goals widened the lead back in their favour. Petterson scored a goal off a three-person Bandits screen, but it would be the final Thunderbirds tally of the night. A hat trick goal from Dhane Smith and an empty netter from Nick Weiss ended the game 18-13 for the Bandits.
Staats led the Thunderbirds in points with eight (3G, 5A), followed by Petterson with six (2G, 4A). Warren Hill finished the night with the loss while Drew Hutchison stopped 14 shots in 22 minutes of action in relief.
The Bandits were led by Byrne’s 11 points (7G, 4A) and Smith’s 10 points (3G, 7A). Vinc was credited with 65 saves for a .833 Sv%.
The Thunderbirds continue their road trip into the new year, heading to the capital of New York to take on the Albany FireWolves (1-1). Face-off at MVP Arena is set for 8:00 p.m. AT. Fans can catch the game live on TSN Direct.