The Toronto Rock, looking for their first win of the season tonight will not have to look any further. Scoring the first four goals of the game and never trailing, the Rock played their best game yet of 2007 taking advantage of early penalties and using all their talent to come out with a win in front of 13,659 fans at the HSBC Center against the Buffalo Bandits.
The Rock started out quickly getting right to business on offense scoring two goals on Chad Thompson and Aaron Wilson shots in the first 3 minutes. The Bandits seemed to draw penalties early leading to six power play chances that Toronto took advantage of. The Rock would out shoot the Bandits 13 to 7 in the period, with goals from Blaine Manning and Josh Sanderson. An unassisted goal by Rock defender, Phil Sanderson finished off the first quarter with the Rock leading 5-2.
The second quarter was much the same with Toronto in full control scoring four goals (Josh Sanderson and Aaron Wilson both with 2), three of them a power play. Despite goals from Kevin Dostie and Mark Steenhuis, the five penalties meant the Bandits rarely had a full lineup for much of the quarter and the Rock held the lead into halftime 9 – 4.
The third quarter saw a goalie change for the Bandits with Steve Dietrich manning the pipes for the first time this season after recovering from knee surgery in place of starter Mike Thompson. His return would be welcomed by 12 shots on the net in which resulted in goals by Chad Thompson and Blaine Manning. Buffalo responded with energy and John Tavares recorded two goals in the third period and an unassisted goal from Bandits defenseman, Kyle Laverty.
The fourth quarter would be the most evenly played between the two teams. The Bandits put up a valiant effort in the closing quarter scoring three goals but the Rock would answer back scoring three of their own by Matt Shearer, Ryan Benesch. Chris Driscoll sealed the game with an empty net goal and a Rock victory defeat over the Bandits 14 -10.
Toronto took advantage of the 21 penalty minutes that were charged to the Bandits in the first half scoring on six power play opportunities while out shooting them 27 to 18. For the game the Rock out shoot the Bandits 45 to 38.
Aaron Wilson and Josh Sanderson led the Rock in scoring with three goals each in the first half. Blaine Manning tallied 11 points on 2 goals and an impressive 9 assists. The win goes to veteran goaltender Bob Watson for his first of the season stopping 30 shots to record the win.
The Bandits were lead in scoring by John Tavares with 2 goals and 3 assists in a losing cause.
The Rock (1-3) will look to build on their win when they return home to Toronto to host the Bandits (2-3) tomorrow night at the ACC for the back end of the home and home series with Buffalo. Fans can expect this game to be a physical affair with the rubber match slated for 7:30 p.m. EST.