Toronto, ON – The Toronto Rock (3-0) delivered on Rock owner Jamie Dawick’s guarantee of a home opener win by defeating the Buffalo Bandits (2-2) by a score of 13-11 at Air Canada Centre on Friday night.
“I thought we started the game very well,” said Rock Head Coach John Lovell. “I thought of the three games we’ve played so far we made the most mistakes (tonight). I credit Buffalo, they were working just as hard and they had a lot of incentive and motivation themselves. I just thought we were sloppy and made a lot of mistakes, but we were fortunate to get some great goaltending and key goals at key times.”
An emotional pre-game tribute to former Rock GM Terry “T” Sanderson, who passed away in late November of last year, began the night. The Rock players formed a “T” at centre floor in honour of their late leader. The Bandits added their own touch of class by meeting the Rock players at their end of the floor to shake hands.
The Rock stormed out of the gate building a 2-0 edge. They held another 2-goal lead at 3-1 before the Bandits rallied to score a pair of goals and knot the score 3-3 before the end of one quarter of play.
The Bandits scored their 3rd straight goal to go up 4-3, but the Rock scored twice to regain the lead. This was only the beginning of the back-and-forth second quarter with Buffalo’s Mark Steenhuis scoring his third and Ryan Benesch scoring his second and third goals of the game to take a 7-5 lead.
The Rock scored three straight to wrestle the lead away from Buffalo, but the Bandits were full marks for answering the bell when they needed a goal to keep the game deadlocked heading into the 4th quarter, 9-9.
Toronto doubled Buffalo’s fourth quarter output, 4-2 to gut out a big 2-goal win on home floor. Stephan Leblanc and Brodie Merrill each scored shorthanded in the final frame.
Nick Rose got his first win of the season making 30 saves on 41 shots. Anthony Cosmo was credited with the loss allowing 11 goals on 54 shots.
Rock goal scorers were Kasey Beirnes (3), Brett Hickey (3), Rob Hellyer (2), Brodie Merrill (2), Stephan Leblanc (2), and Kevin Ross (1). Josh Sanderson had 6 assists, while Leblanc added 7 assists to his pair of goals for a 9-point game. Ryan Benesch’s 5 goals earned him the games third star, while Sanderson and Leblanc were 1-2 on the star scoreboard.
There’s little rest ahead for the Rock as they will travel to Rochester Saturday to face the Knighthawks at 7:30pm at Blue Cross Arena. Toronto’s next home game will be Saturday, January 31st at 7:00pm against the Calgary Roughnecks.
2015 Toronto Rock Season Tickets, Flex Packs, the Upper Bowl Season Pass and single game tickets are also all on sale now. For more information, please visit torontorock.com or call 416-596-3075 to speak with a ticket representative and get your hands on the BEST ticket in town.