Buffalo, NY – On Saturday night at First Niagara Center, the Toronto Rock (5-1) defeated the Buffalo Bandits (3-2) by a score of 14-12 as captain Colin Doyle led the way with four goals and four assists for an 8-point game.
For the third consecutive game, the Rock surrendered the first goal of the game. Toronto went on a four-goal run to close out the first quarter and lead 4-1. The opening 15 minutes showcased some dazzling ball movement by the Rock, especially on the power play.
Buffalo broke up the Rock’s run with an early strike by former Rock forward Mike Hominuck. Rock forward Scott Evans was the victim of an illegal crosscheck from Billy Dee Smith as the Bandits defender was assessed a major penalty. Evans connected on the delayed penalty and drew another penalty after scoring. The Rock struck for two power play tallies on the 5-minute advantage to lead 7-2. Before all was said and done in the second quarter, Buffalo rallied with three goals in the final 2:10 of the half cutting the Rock lead to 7-5.
The Bandits were able to draw to within a goal just over two minutes into the third quarter. Buffalo scored their fifth straight goal to tie the game 7-7 just past the 10-minute mark of the frame. The Rock wasted little time in answering the tying goal as Rob Marshall scored to restore the Rock lead. Just over a minute later, Stephan Leblanc scored to put the visitors ahead 9-7. Buffalo scored a late power play tally and it was a one-goal game heading to the final fifteen minutes.
Toronto scored the first two goals of the quarter but Buffalo had an answer with a pair of their own keeping it a one-goal game with the Rock up 11-10 five minutes into the fourth. Colin Doyle scored his third and fourth goals of the game to again stretch the Rock lead to three goals. The two teams traded goals and Buffalo closed the gap to 14-12 in the late going with a shorthanded goal but they could get no closer.
Billings’ second assist of the game was the 200th of his career, making him just the fifth player in franchise history to accomplish that feat. He finished the game with 2 goals and 5 assists for 7 points.
Rock defender Damon Edwards was assessed a match penalty for high sticking in the fourth quarter and was ejected from the game. Edwards was playing in his first game since the season opener in Calgary, AB on January 12th. A match penalty carries an automatic one-game suspension and Edwards may be subject to further discipline after a league review this week.
The Rock will travel to Minnesota next Friday night for the first time since 2008 to face the Swarm at Xcel Energy Center. The game can be seen live on TSN2 at 8:30pm ET. Toronto’s next home game will be Friday, February 15 when they host the Calgary Roughnecks at Air Canada Centre at 7:30pm. The first 5,000 fans in attendance will receive a limited edition Colin Doyle bobblehead courtesy of Bachly Construction. For the best ticket in town, visit www.torontorock.com or call 416-596-3075.