Buffalo – The crowd was hot and so were the Buffalo Bandits in the early going as they catapulted out of the gate and went on to hold several leads throughout the night but the Rock battle back hard only to fall 4:01 into OT to drop their first game of the year.
Toronto trailed 3-0 early, but tied things up 3-3 before long. The two clubs exchanged tallies before the end of the first quarter.
The Rock seemed to have everything going their way and eventually built a 7-5 lead early in the second quarter. However, the Bandits answered back with three straight goals to lead 8-7.
The Bandits and Rock traded goals once again and Buffalo held a 9-8 lead going into the break at halftime.
Colin Doyle’s first goal of the game which fell in the second quarter put him one ahead of Hall of Famer Paul Gait for fourth all-time in goal scoring. Doyle finished the game with 4 goals and 2 assists.
Buffalo chased starter Bob Watson from the Rock goal 3:18 into the third quarter after scoring the first two goals of the frame to go up 11-8. Pat Campbell came on to replace Watson but immediately surrendered a goal as Buffalo increased their lead to three at 12-8.
Toronto had held their opponents off the board entirely in each of their first two games and got a taste of their own medicine failing to connect in the third quarter.
Buffalo struck first in the fourth quarter to lead 13-8, but from there the Rock turned up their game on offence. Toronto buried the next five goals to tie the score 13-13. John Tavares scored to give Buffalo a 14-13 lead with just over three minutes left in the fourth quarter.
The Rock pulled their goalie with less than a minute remaining in regulation and Friday’s OT hero Stephan Leblanc cashed in with 10.1 seconds left and for the second night in a row, we were off to overtime.
In OT, a long Rock shot from outside missed the net and the ball kicked back out to near half allowing Scott Self a breakaway and he sent the Bandits fans home happy scoring the game winner.
One week from tonight, the Bandits will be the visitors at Air Canada Centre for a 7pm game. The re-match will be broadcast live on TSN2 at 7pm.
For tickets to Saturday’s game against Buffalo at Air Canada Centre, log on to www.torontorock.com or call the Rock office at 416-596-3075.