Toronto Offence Never Got Rolling
Buffalo, NY – The Toronto Rock (0-1) couldn’t find their rhythm on offence and lost 13-9 to the Buffalo Bandits (1-0) on Friday night at Buffalo’s KeyBank Center in front of 11,516 fans.
“We didn’t have very good execution up there and when we did their goaltender played well,” said Rock Head Coach Matt Sawyer. “Defensively and goaltending wise, we gave ourselves a chance to win but you’re not going to win many games scoring that many goals.
“I thought we ran into a team that was much hungrier than us and you could tell they had the jump right from the get go. They won more battles than us, they dominated loose balls and extra efforts all over the floor.”
The first quarter had a few physical moments, but the Rock found themselves shorthanded more than they would have liked but the Bandits only made good on one of four power play chances. After falling behind early, the Rock battled back from a 3-0 deficit to trail 3-2 after the first quarter.
There were more special teams in the second quarter. Brett Hickey scored a power play goal and captain Brodie Merrill scored a momentum swinging shorthanded transition goal to give the Rock their first lead of the game, 4-3 with 6:51 to go in the second quarter. Buffalo swung things back in their favour with a pair of power play tallies to take a 5-4 lead. Stephan Leblanc answered for the Rock after corralling a loose ball off an Adam Jones shot, slipping it between the legs of Bandits’ netminder Alex Buque, tying the score 5-5 at the half.
Josh Byrne, the top pick in the 2017 NLL Draft, opened the second half scoring for the Bandits just over a minute in. About eight minutes later, Rob Hellyer once again evened the score, 6-6. Buffalo notched a pair of goals just 23 seconds apart to match their first quarter two-goal lead, up 8-6. The teams matched goals before the end of the third quarter and the Bandits led 9-7 heading to the final fifteen minutes.
In the fourth quarter, the Rock just couldn’t get ahead of things and couldn’t dig out of the hole they found themselves in essentially throughout the game. Buffalo outscored Toronto 4-2 in the final frame en route to the 13-9 Bandits win.
Offensively, Adam Jones led the attack with 2 goals and 3 assists for 5 points in his Rock debut. Dan Lintner scored three times while singles came from Hellyer, Hickey, Leblanc and Merrill. Nick Rose got the loss in the Rock cage but was steady throughout the game.
The Rock will return home next Saturday night to take on the Saskatchewan Rush at 7:00pm in the team’s home opener. $1 from every ticket sold will be donated to the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund.
Toronto Rock season and single game tickets are on sale now. For more information, please visit torontorock.com/tickets or call 416-596-3075.