TORONTO – The Toronto Rock opened their 2009 home season against the defending National Lacrosse League Champions, the Buffalo Bandits. The Rock are now 1-1 after being defeated by a score of 8-6 at Air Canada Centre tonight.
Buffalo (2-0) opened the scoring with a goal by Mark Steenhuis two minutes into the contest. Forward Bill McGlone answered back for the Rock, sticking one in the back of the net after his first attempt was called back. Billy Dee Smith advanced the Bandits putting in the second goal for Buffalo. Kasey Beirnes evened up the score for Toronto off a pass from Blaine Manning and McGlone. Defence and goaltending were strong on both sides. Bandits goaltender Ken Montour stopped 10 of 12 shots faced. Bob Watson saved 7 of 9 shots in the Rock net.
Watson was spectacular in the second quarter, saving 13 out of 14 shots faced. Montour was equally strong, stopping 10 of 12 shots. Strong goaltending resulted in a low scoring quarter as Beirnes added his second goal of the night at the 9:29 minute mark followed up by teammate Manning two minutes later. Mike Accursi scored the Bandits’ lone goal of the quarter. Toronto led 4-3 at the half.
Montour carried his hot streak into the third quarter, stopping all ten of the Rock’s shots on goal. Watson continued a surreal performance in the third, sprawling to extinguish rebounds, but Cory Bomberry and John Tavares found a way past him to take a 5-4 lead.
In the final quarter, Toronto finally got to Montour when Jason Crosbie scored in the first minute with help from assistant captain Lewis Ratcliff. A power play goal by Kasey Beirnes with 11:15 remaining would be good for the hattrick, advancing the Rock a 6-5 lead. It wouldn’t last, as Montour shut the door the rest of the way. Two additional goals by Steenhuis and a goal by Tavares sealed the deal for the Bandits as they took the decision 8-6.
Kasey Beirnes led the Rock with 4 points (3 goals, 1 assist) and Bill McGlone, Blaine Manning and Jason Crobie tallied one goal each. Mark Steenhuis led the Bandits with 3 goals and 1 assist.
Toronto Rock host the Calgary Roughnecks next weekend at home on Saturday, January 17th 7:00 p.m. EST.