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Warriors Continue to Improve for Friday Matchup Against Buffalo Bandits

The Vancouver Warriors (2-8) take on the reigning NLL Cup champion Buffalo Bandits (5-5) on First Nations Celebration Night at Rogers Arena on Friday, March 1st. 

The Warriors are coming off a battle with the NLL’s top team, a 9-5 loss to the Toronto Rock.  Vancouver had the game tied 5-5 in the fourth quarter and General Manager and Head Coach Curt Malawsky was encouraged by a lot of what he saw from his team. 

“I thought that Aden Walsh played very well, I thought our defence played very well. Our offence had good chances, but you have to tip your hat to (Rock goaltender) Nick Rose,” Malawsky said. “It’s a really tough league, but we hung in there with one of the top teams, we did not get the results that we’re looking for, but I stick to the fact that it’s a process and a journey and we’re just doing our best to continue to get better as we go along.” 

Walsh got the nod for his first start of the season and the Oakville, Ontario native got to play in front of family and friends, stopping 37 of 46 shots he faced. 

Kyle Killen had two goals, and Ryan Martel, Kevin Crowley and Riley Loewen each scored singles. Martel finished the night with a goal and three helpers for a team-high four points. 

Adam Charalambides is still leading the way for Vancouver with 46 points (21-25-46), Keegan Bal has 42 points on the season, 15 goals and 27 assists. 

The defending champions from Buffalo enter the fray with the Warriors in an unfamiliar position, 5-5 and fighting for their playoff lives as they enter play this weekend. Coming off a tough 13-10 loss last Saturday at home to Albany, the Bandits will be determined not to fall below .500 this late in the season. 

Vancouver’s tough defense has caused 130 turnovers, and the group isn’t afraid to put their bodies on the line, blocking a whopping 72 shots compared to the Bandits’ 66. The Warriors power play has a 38% success rate with 32 opportunities on the man-advantage, scoring on 12 occasions. Vancouver’s penalty kill is now one of the best in the NLL, 2nd overall allowing just 16 goals on 42 chances. The Warriors hold the advantage over the Bandits in the faceoff circle, winning 48% of their draws, compared to the Bandits’ 29%. 

New Westminster native, Josh Byrne, had a six-point outing with three goals and three assists in the loss. Kyle Buchanon and Chris Cloutier tallied two goals each and Tehoka Nanticoke, Ian MacKay and Vancouver’s Chase Fraser all poured in a goal as well. 

Right-handed forward Dhane Smith racked up six assists and collected 14 loose balls and transition player Nick Wiess had one assist and 12 loose balls. 

Byrne leads his team with 68 points (26-42-68) and is second on the NLL’s overall leaderboard for points. 2023 NLL Finals MVP, Dhane Smith, has 67 points (11-56-67) through 10 games, good for third-best in the NLL. Byrne leads the goal scoring for the Bandits while Chase Fraser is second on the team with 21 goals this season and Chris Cloutier is third with 17 goals. 

Buffalo has a 50% success rate on the power play, Buchanan leading the way with four goals on the man advantage. The Bandits have scored 18 power play goals and Byrne has assisted on 11 of those. The Bandits had a team-high eight power play assists against the San Diego Seals in December. 

The game on First Nations Celebration Night is presented by TD and face off is at 7:00 p.m. PT. 

For season tickets, group tickets, suites, and individual tickets, and Spring Break Camp information head to www.vancouverwarriors.com. 

Vancouver Warriors