Thunder ends Buffalo drought with 12-10 win over Bandits Strong 1st half, 4 goals by Gait boost visitors

March 08, 1998|By Keith Page | Keith Page,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A trip to Buffalo finally proved to be a pleasant experience for the Baltimore Thunder. Keyed by an impressive first-half performance, the Thunder captured a 12-10 victory over the Buffalo Bandits last night.

The win was the first by the Thunder in seven attempts on the Bandits' home turf. With the victory, Baltimore (6-2) moves into a tie for second place in the National Lacrosse League with Rochester.

"We've been a very strong road team this year and we've gotten off to very fast starts," said Thunder coach John Tucker. "We wanted to try to take the crowd out of the game by getting ahead early and we did just that. That was very important for us."

The Thunder dominated the first 30 minutes, jumping out to a 7-2 lead. Longtime Bandits nemesis Gary Gait led the offensive charge by scoring the Thunder's first and third goals, sandwiched between a tally by Matt Shearer. Gait, who finished with a team-high four goals, has now collected 66 goals and 105 points in 19 career games against Buffalo.

Doug Knight and Chris Panos each added a goal to build Baltimore's lead to 5-0.

The Bandits (3-6) finally broke through with 6: 54 left in the second quarter as John Tavares beat Thunder goalie Derrick Collins (35 saves) for the first of his six goals on the night. Just two minutes later, Buffalo made it 5-2 on a Jason Luke power-play tally.

But the Thunder regained its five-goal lead before the half was over on goals by Kip Fulks and Knight.

Buffalo made things a bit interesting by scoring the first three goals of the second half, two coming with a man-advantage.

"We got a little nervous because they're the type of team that can score four goals in two minutes," said Thunder forward Tom Ryan. "We know we can never let up against them. We knew we had to get control of the game."

The Thunder did exactly that, recording four of the game's next five goals to pull away. Fulks, Panos, Knight and Gait all scored during the outburst.

The Bandits added three goals in the final two minutes but could not complete the comeback.

Pub Date: 3/08/98

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