Toronto – The Toronto Rock (5-6) and the Buffalo Bandits (4-7) will meet for the third and final time this regular season on Saturday night at 7:30pm at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, NY. The Bandits have won each of the previous two meetings and hold the head to head tiebreaker regardless of the result of Saturday’s game.
Buffalo’s most recent triumph over Toronto came on March 16th at Air Canada Centre when the visiting Bandits outscored the Rock 13-3 in the second half en route to a 21-14 win. The Rock, however, would like to make sure the tiebreak scenario never comes into play and a win on Saturday night in Buffalo can go a long way towards achieving that goal and putting some distance between themselves and the Bandits in the East Division standings.
“This game is no different than any of the other games we’ve been faced with lately,” remarked Sanderson. “It’s a very important game for us. Buffalo came in and absolutely destroyed us in our own building. It didn’t leave a very good taste in our mouth and we have to find out how our guys are going to react to that. Saturday can’t get here quick enough.”
The Bandits had lost six consecutive games, a franchise worst, before beating the Rock on March16th. Buffalo followed up that win with a home victory the next night over Minnesota but were handed a 17-6 defeat by the Calgary Roughnecks last weekend – a game they would like to rebound from in a hurry.
“I think I know our guys and I think we’re going to respond,” said Bandits Assistant Coach Derek Graham. “We have a locker room full of winners and we have to prove it.”
Toronto received a great goaltending effort last week in the Rock’s 13-7 win at Rochester from the newly acquired Nick Rose. The performance also earned him NLL defensive player of the week honours. Making the win that much more impressive was the fact that it came in Rose’s first career NLL start, but the total team effort was more of a bright spot to Sanderson in retrospect.
“I think we played our most complete game of the year holding Rochester to 35 shots,” said Sanderson. “I don’t want to take anything away from Nick, he stopped the ones he supposed to and was real solid.”
The Rock offence was led by captain Colin Doyle scoring 3 goals and adding 4 assists for a 7-point game in the Toronto win over Rochester. Doyle’s 4 assists gave him 700 for his career as he became just the third player in league history to achieve the feat. Rock teammate Josh Sanderson and Bandits great John Tavares are the other two in the 700 assist club. The captain’s contributions will be key this weekend in Buffalo as the Rock look to get on a run down the stretch.
Saturday night’s game at First Niagara Center will be televised live at 7:30pm on TSN2 and will also be available on TSN Mobile TV.