Buffalo, NY – The Toronto Rock (9-2) were victimized by a fourth quarter rally to suffer their first loss in 7 games. The Buffalo Bandits (6-5) scored 7 goals in the fourth quarter in front of a raucous crowd at the First Niagara Center on Friday night in Buffalo.
“We had a good lead, when you have a lead like that in the fourth quarter, I don’t care what building you’re in you, you should be able to hold on to it,” said Rock Head Coach John Lovell. “I will give credit to Buffalo they kept coming at us and didn’t give up.”
With the game all but over, a line brawl broke out with just 50 seconds remaining in regulation. Several players squared off and the building erupted. Players from both sides were either ejected or received 10-minute misconducts to end their night.
“I thought we stooped to their level a few times tonight, and we’ve got to be more disciplined in our game (tomorrow night),” said Lovell.
Exactly one-minute into the opening quarter, the Bandits’ Ryan Benesch opened the scoring bringing the Buffalo faithful to their feet. The Rock replied on the powerplay but the Bandits scored an extra-man tally of their own moments later to retake a one-goal edge. Rob Hellyer scored, what some may call a goal-scorers goal to tie, the game as a shot from well out snuck through Bandits goaltender Anthony Cosmo. Josh Sanderson snuck another one by Cosmo to give the Rock their first lead. Buffalo scored twice within the final 1:17 of the quarter to lead 4-3 after one quarter.
Buffalo scored another early goal to open the second quarter scoring. It was all Rock from there though. Four straight goals, two on the powerplay, gave the Rock a 7-5 lead at halftime. Toronto’s powerplay was 3 for 4 in the first half.
After the Bandits had battled back to make it a one-goal game at 8-7, the Rock equaled their first half powerplay goal total of 3 in a span of just 3:05. Buffalo got a much needed goal late in the third quarter to get back to within 3 goals 11-8 heading to the final quarter.
Alex Kedoh Hill single handedly tied the score 11-11 just 5:31 into the fourth quarter. The Rock took a 12-11 lead but it would be their last of the night as the Bandits scored 4 straight goals to complete the comeback.
Sanderson’s second quarter goal gave him 600 career points with the Rock. He sits third all-time in Rock scoring behind Colin Doyle and Blaine Manning.
Rock goals came from Rob Hellyer (2), Stephan Leblanc (2), Josh Sanderson (2), Kasey Beirnes (2), Kevin Ross (2), Brett Hickey (1) and Brodie Merrill (1).
Nick Rose made 39 saves and suffered his first loss of the season. Anthony Cosmo returned to the Bandits net after missing the team’s last game due to injury and made 51 saves, earning the win.
For tickets to Saturday’s game against the Bandits at Air Canada Centre, please visit torontorock.com.