January 26, 2013 - 7:12 PM
7:08 p.m. - The Buffalo Bandits have a hard act to follow tonight. Last week's game was mighty exciting.
Neither the Bandits nor the Rochester Knighthawks could pull away from the other, as the largest lead in the second half was one goal. Tracey Kelusky provided the last lead with his behind-the-back shot in the final seconds to win it.
That improved the Bandits' record to 2-1, with the one loss coming to Philadelphia. And that same Philadelphia team is in town tonight. The Wings come in unbeaten at 2-0.
This is a tough weekend for Philadelphia. The Wings host Calgary tomorrow afternoon. The Roughnecks beat up Colorado on Friday.
The only anticipated lineup change for Buffalo tonight is the arrival of Billy Dee Smith. Jimmy Purves is slated to go to the scratch list to make room for him.
7:21 p.m. - Anthony Cosmo and Brandon Miller are the starting goaltenders. The Wings scratched third-string goalie Chris Collins. I'll resist the temptation to say Collins is busy in Congress this weekend.
7:37 p.m. - Another solid job by anthem singer Kevin Kennedy. And he kept his orange suit and dress shoes. Wonder where you can buy that outfit?
7:44 p.m. - We've played a little more than four minutes, and it's already 3-2 Buffalo. Last goal wins, perhaps. Shawn Williams has celebrated his 200th straight game with three assists.
7:53 p.m. - Sure enough, the scoring has stopped for the moment. Buffalo had a power play, but the best chance by either team came when it was over. Steve Holmes came out of the box for a breakaway, but Anthony Cosmo stopped him.
8:01 p.m. - The first quarter ends quietly, with the score tied at 3-all. We had a total of five goals in the first 4 minutes, 5 seconds, and one in the following 10:55. Bandits had a 14-9 edge in shots.
8:05 p.m. - Billy Dee Smith took a roughing penalty at one second of the period to give Wings a two-man advantage. Jordan Hall capitalized to give the Wings their first lead.
8:10 p.m. - Bandits went more than 16 minutes without scoring until Chad Culp ended the drought. It's 5-4, Phillly, with 10:12 left. The pace of the game has slowed since the opening minutes.
8:17 p.m. - Strike that last remark. Suddenly it's been up and down, and the Bandits have done most of the scoring lately. They are ahead, 6-5, with 5:36 left in the half.
8:30 p.m. - The Bandits got the lead up to 8-6, but Jordan Hall has two goals in 21 seconds for the Wings. We're tied, 8-8, with 30.4 seconds left.
8:32 p.m. - And that's the way it ends, 8-8 after a half of play.
8:57 p.m. - Scott Self and Dhane Smith have scored for the Bandits, so it's 10-8 with 9:43 left in the third quarter. Philadelphia hadn't given up 10 goals in an entire game this season.
9:06 p.m. - Bandits have taken an 11-9 lead. They gave up a power-play goal to Drew Westervelt to see the lead cut to 10-9, but Dhane Smith took a shot that looked like he was bowling, and he beat Brandon Miller to restore the two-goal margin.
9:16 p.m. - Bandits and Wings both scored in the final minutes of the period, so we're at 12-10, Buffalo, after 45 minutes. It's the first time this season Buffalo has led after 45 minutes this season, for what that's worth. Obviously, we're a long way from being done.
9:24 p.m. - Indeed we are. The Wings have climbed back into a tie at 12-12. One actual penalty and one delayed penalty have led to two Philadelphia goals, and that has left us tied.
9:38 p.m. - John Tavares had given Buffalo a one-goal lead but Philly responded with 42.7 seconds left. It's 13-13.
9:44 p.m. - Luke Wiles apparently has scored with 23.6 seconds left to give Buffalo the lead. They are reviewing it. ... And it counts.
9:51 p.m. - Bandits win, 14-13, in another thriller. Off to locker room.
11:39 p.m. - These thrillers are taking a lot of me. That's two games in a row decided in the final 30 seconds by a Buffalo goal, and three games that have come down to the game's last shot. It's tough on writers, fabulous for fans.
There's been plenty of talk about the parity in the league this season, and deservedly so. I don't think there's an upset to be found in this league right now.
And closer to home, I wondered how the Bandits would do at the start of the season with so many new faces on the roster. Would it take long to get everyone playing together? Apparently not. Now comes the first appearance of the season in Buffalo of the Toronto Rock, a frequent measuring stick lately for the Bandits. That's next Saturday.
--- Budd Bailey