HAGERSVILLE – The Toronto Rock received a balanced attack from their forwards despite a 15-13 loss in their final exhibition scrimmage game against the Buffalo Bandits Wednesday night at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena.
Josh Sanderson led the Rock with two goals and four assists. Colin Doyle added a single and four helpers, while Rusty Kruger tallied a hattrick for Toronto.
Bandits forward Mark Steenhuis, a native of St. Catharines, Ont., led Buffalo with four goals and an assist, while Kim Squire and Delby Powless added two goals each.
The Rock played seven new players in the contest, including rookies Chet Koneczny, Matt Taylor and J.J. Dickie.
Sanderson opened the scoring for Toronto, which was sitting out veterans Jim Veltman and Phil Sanderson, before Buffalo stormed back with a powerplay and shorthanded goal to take momentum and eventually a 4-2 lead at the end of the first quarter. The teams traded goals in the second frame with Buffalo leading 7-6 at the half.
In the third quarter, both teams scored three times apiece with transition goals, including a late marker with the goalie pulled by Sanderson with 20 seconds left in the frame.
Toronto took a 12-11 lead in the fourth before Squire, Steenhuis and Powless rallied off three goals in under three minutes to give Buffalo the lead for good. Steenhuis scored an empty netter with 12 seconds remaining with Toronto pushing for the tying goal.
Rock forwards Aaron Wilson and Blaine Manning scored twice each, and Chris Driscoll and Jason Henhawk added three assists apiece.
Bob Watson played the entire game in net for the Rock, while Steve Dietrich, Ryan Avery and Mike Poulin split goalkeeping duties for the Bandits.
The Rock begins defence of the NLL Championship on Jan. 7 at 7 p.m. at the Air Canada Centre in a rematch of last year’s championship final against the Arizona Sting. For tickets, visit www.ticketmaster.ca or call (416) 872-5000.