Sports stats

 Buffalo Bandits

Bandits Clinch Home Playoff Game with Win over Las Vegas

April 21, 2024 - National Lacrosse League (NLL)
Buffalo Bandits News Release

Dhane Smith made history as he became the first NLL player to ever tally 100 or more assists in a single season, recording 10 assists en route to a 14-5 victory over the Las Vegas Desert Dogs at Michelob Ultra Arena on Saturday night.

The Bandits' alternate captain ended the regular season with 101 assists, surpassing his NLL record from last season of 96.

"Sounds pretty good," Smith said on the ESPN broadcast. "At the end of the day, you're not known for breaking records, you're known to win championships and that's what I'm trying to do."

Smith (2+10) and Josh Byrne (3+6) combined for 21 points in the Bandits' win, which clinched the No. 4 seed in the 2024 NLL Playoffs and a first-round home playoff game.

Buffalo will host the Georgia Swarm in the single-elimination NLL Quarterfinals on Saturday, April 27 at 7 p.m. inside KeyBank Center.

Tickets are on sale now.

The Bandits weren't only playing for a home playoff game on Saturday but also in honor of Tucker Williams, the son of former Bandit and current Desert Dogs coach Shawn Williams, who lost a courageous battle with Burkitt lymphoma in 2014.

Las Vegas held its Tucker Out Lymphoma Night while both teams wore specialty jerseys in honor of the night.

"It's a special night. It's an emotional night," Smith said. "I think we took a lot of penalties tonight because of the emotion. We beared down - second half we played a lot better. For me, I think it was a special night for me. I'm glad I was able to do that accomplishment for Tucker."

Buffalo was led by Smith's 12-point night followed by Byrne's nine-point performance. The dynamic duo closed out the regular season leading the league in points as Byrne totaled 135 points (53+82) in 2023-24, just one point ahead of Smith's 134 (33+101).

The Bandits had five other players record multi-point games, with Tehoka Nanticoke (3+0), Brandon Robinson (2+1), and Chase Fraser (1+2) each posting three points in the win while Kyle Buchanan and Nick Weiss each tallied a goal and an assist.

Matt Vinc played 57 minutes and stopped 40 of 45 shots before Steve Orleman came in after the final media timeout, making two saves.

Las Vegas was led by Rob Hellyer and Jack Hannah, who each had a goal and two assists. Casey Jackson and Connor Kirst each tallied a goal and an assist while Landon Kells made 41 saves for the Desert Dogs in the opposing net.

Buffalo took four penalties in the first quarter but was able to hold off the Las Vegas power play until the second. Despite a slow start, the Bandits found their rhythm once they maintained even strength.

Byrne drove to the crease and flew towards the net, burying a far-post shot to open the scoring with 3:23 remaining in the first. Kirst drove in transition a minute later and scored the first Vegas goal of the day to tie the score at 1-1 at the end of the opening quarter.

The Desert Dogs went into the second quarter on their fourth power play of the day and finally were able to take advantage of the extra-man situation. Jackson scored with time expiring on the shot clock and gave Vegas the lead, but it was all the Bandits needed to dial in their emotion.

Fraser tied the score and opened a run for the Bandits that saw the soft hands of Robinson and the power of Byrne with a five-hole shot that seemingly pushed the goalie's stick out of the way.

From there, Buffalo outscored Las Vegas 8-1 and held the Desert Dogs off the scoresheet in the third to take a commanding 10-3 lead at the end of the third quarter, led by a hat trick from Nanticoke and eight assists from Smith.

Vegas scored twice to open the fourth as the Bandits picked up two early penalties, but the deficit was too large to overcome. Buffalo scored four unanswered goals to close out the game.

Up next

The Bandits travel home to Buffalo next Saturday to open the playoffs in Banditland.

"They're the best fans in the league for a reason," Smith said. "They travel so well it felt like a home game for us tonight. It's awesome to get a home playoff game. We're not done yet."


Tags, 2023-24, Buffalo Bandits, Dhane Smith, Game Recap, Josh Byrne, Las Vegas Desert Dogs, NLL

• Discuss this story on the National Lacrosse League message board...

National Lacrosse League Stories from April 21, 2024

The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

OurSports Central