BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Hall of Fame coach John Tavares was nervous about how his team would handle the transition. Uplifting a world championship banner amidst 17,200 revelers in Banditland, the NLL Cup winners had to recalibrate their emotions on the fly for the challenge at hand in Saturday night’s home opener.
It took the better part of two quarters until the Bandits rallied for a 12-9 victory against the San Diego Seals at KeyBank Center, returning to the scene of their 2023 championship triumph, the fifth in franchise history.
Josh Byrne scored four goals and assisted on three others, Dhane Smith had seven assists, Kyle Buchanan scored twice, and Matt Vinc made 39 saves as Buffalo revitalized its repeat title chase following a 17-13 loss in Albany to open the new season.
The Bandits took command with a five-goal surge after falling behind 7-5 at the start of the third quarter. Byrne had the first and last goals in the run, and the Bandits scored twice on power plays during the decisive 11-minute stretch.
Jonah Bronstein joined the WIVB squad in 2022 as a digital sports reporter. The Buffalonian has covered the Bills, Sabres, Bandits, Bisons, colleges, high schools and other notable sporting events in Western New York since 2005, for publications including The Associated Press, The Buffalo News, and Niagara Gazette. Read more of his work here.