March 27, 2011

Buffalo Wins Fourth Straight, Clinches Playoff Berth

by Jeff Baker |

The Buffalo Bandits (8-3) buzzed by the Minnesota Swarm (5-6) by a score of 12-9 at the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, Minn., on Sunday. With their fourth straight win, the Bandits clinched a playoff spot in the East division and pulled within a half game of the Toronto Rock (9-3) in the standings.

The Bandits took a 6-4 lead into halftime, keyed by several breakaway saves by goaltender Mike Thompson and Tracey Kelusky's two first half goals, one of which was a beautiful 'dunk' while diving from behind the net.

Buffalo led 8-5 going into the fourth quarter, as Chad Culp was the culprit behind two third quarter goals. The back-and-forth final frame was action-packed as the teams traded goals in rapid succession.

The Swarm pulled the goalie with two minutes left and scored to pull within two goals.

Buffalo's Jay Thorimbert won the following faceoff, allowing the Bandits to call timeout. Tracey Kelusky then scored his third goal of the game to seal the win.

The Swarm's NLL league-leading goal scorer Ryan Benesch scored twice and added three assists, while teammate Callum Crawford matched that output as well.

Thompson finished with 39 saves on 48 shots in another solid performance for Buffalo. Minnesota's Nick Patterson made 32 saves on 44 shots in the losing effort.

The game aired nationally in the United States on Versus.

Buffalo hosts the 2010 NLL Champion Washington Stealth (6-6) at HSBC Arena on Saturday, April 2 at 7:30pm ET. Minnesota will travel to Calgary to take on the best in the West Roughnecks (9-3) on Friday, April 1 at 9:30 p.m. Eastern.

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