BUFFALO – Toronto’s defense stifled the potent Buffalo offence limiting snipers John Tavares and Mark Steenhuis to just one goal and two assists combined, defeating the Bandits 10-8 in a thrilling finish in front of a season-high crowd of 14,064 at the HSBC Arena.
With the win, Rock head coach and general manager Terry Sanderson picks up his 50th career coaching victory. More importantly, the Rock move into second place in the closely contested East Division and now a well earned bye week.
Blaine Manning, Colin Doyle, Aaron Wilson and Jim Veltman led the Rock with two goals a piece, while Steve Evans and Josh Sanderson added singles. Josh Sanderson also chipped in with three assists to bring his league-leading assist number to 56.
Derek Suddons a very strong game defensively and in transition for the Rock while Phil Sanderson and Dan Ladouceur were both very effective with the Rock transition game.
Dan Teat led Buffalo with a pair of goals and an assist.
Fitting of a great rivalry, Toronto and Buffalo showed no love lost early on.
Evans and Steenhuis got in a two-minute long scrap less than two minutes in. Both players were throwing heavy jabs and uppercuts with neither offensive player backing down. The fight was pretty even and gave no team any clear momentum.
Seconds after the fight, Rock captain Veltman opened the scoring with a harmless looking shot that somehow found its way into the back of the net past Bandits’ keeper Steve Dietrich.
Tavares, on a beautiful one-on-one move, and Dan Teat gave Buffalo a 2-1 lead minutes later, but Doyle evened it with a nice outside shot.
With 53 seconds left in the opening quarter, Toronto was caught with too many men on the floor and the extra attacker interfered with a Buffalo player on a breakaway; consequently, Buffalo was awarded a penatly shot. Rock goalie Bob Watson, who was steady throughout the game making 49 saves, robbed Tavares to keep the score tied.
Both teams struggled on offence in the second quarter with sloppy transitional play. Roger Vyse scored to make it 3-2 for Buffalo in transition, but the Rock replied 16 seconds later on a Blaine Manning marker to make it 3-3. The teams entered the half tied.
Despite a number of power-play chances early on, the Rock could not get it done on special teams. They were 0-5 with the man advantage in the first half.
In the second half, Buffalo took several undisciplined penalties and the Rock took control on a five-on-three powerplay early in the third quarter with Wilson scoring his first with Bandits Billy Dee Smith and Kyle Laverty in the sin bin. Toronto led after three 6-5.
In the fourth Toronto rallied off two goals in 35 second from Manning and Wilson.
The Rock’s next game is at home at the Air Canada Centre when they host the Calgary Roughnecks on Saturday March 25 at 2 p.m. It’s the Rock’s annual autograph game with team photos handed out to fans courtesy of the Toronto Sun and an autograph session following the game in the Air Canada Centre Galleria, located just outside of Gate 1.
National Lacrosse League
ROCK 10, BANDITS 8
(At HSBC Arena, Buffalo)
1. Toronto Veltman (unassisted) 2:15
2. Buffalo Tavares (Powless, Laverty) 4:42
3. Buffalo Teat (Powless, Tavares) 5:19
4. Toronto Doyle (J. Sanderson, Manning) 6:20
Penalties – Toronto Wilson (slashing) 0:54; Buffalo Laverty (slashing) 0:54; Toronto Evans (roughing, fighting major) 1:46; Buffalo Steenhuis (roughing, fighting major) 1:46; Toronto Doyle (unsportsmanlike conduct) 6:20; Buffalo Tavares (unsportsmanlike conduct) 6:20; Toronto Suddons (roughing) 11:38; Buffalo Harasym (roughing) 11:38; Buffalo White (crosschecking, ten-minute misconduct) 12:17; Toronto bench (too many men – missed penalty shot by Tavares); Buffalo Smith (slashing) 14:42.
5. Buffalo Vyse (Steenhuis, Couling) 13:06
6. Toronto Manning (Driscoll, Veltman) 13:22
Penalties – Toronto P. Sanderson (hooking) 3:32; Toronto Veltman (holding) 9:08.
7. Buffalo Bomberry (Teat) 6:14 pp
8. Toronto Wilson (Manning Doyle) 7:52 2pp
9. Buffalo Kilgour (McCready, Bomberry) 8:02 sh
10. Toronto Evans (Kruger, Doyle) 10:56
11. Toronto Doyle 2 (J. Sanderson, Driscoll) 12:48 pp
Penalties – Toronto Evans (unsportsmanlike conduct) 5:52; Buffalo Laverty (holding) 7:26; Buffalo Smith (holding) 7:44; Buffalo Smith (crosschecking) 11:38.
12. Buffalo McCready (unassisted) 4:57
13. Toronto Manning 2 (Veltman) 5:12
14. Toronto Wilson 2 (J. Sanderson, Kruger) 5:47
15. Buffalo Harasym (Bomberry) 8:34 pp
16. Toronto J. Sanderson (Doyle, Kruger) 11:16
17. Toronto Veltman 2 (Watson) 13:12 en
18. Buffalo Teat 2 (Powless Bomberry) 13:21 pp
Penalties – Toronto Campbell (interference) 8:21; Toronto Manning (roughing) 11:53; Buffalo McCready (roughing) 11:53; Buffalo (too many men) 13:12; Toronto Merrill (holding) 14:36.
1 2 3 4 T
Toronto 2 1 2 5 10
Buffalo 2 1 1 4 8
Shots on goal
1 2 3 4 T
Toronto 15 12 11 11 49
Buffalo 14 17 10 16 57
Goalies: Toronto – Watson (W, 7-5) 49 saves, 57 shots; Buffalo – Dietrich (L, 4-4) 39 saves on 49 shots.
Powerplays: Toronto – 2/8; Buffalo – 2/4.
Referees – Bill Fox, Grant Spies, Scott Malloy.
Attendance – 14,064.