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Rock Hand Bandits Their First Loss Of the Season

12-10 Win Over Buffalo Evens The Season Series

Hamilton, ON – It was a game the Toronto Rock (5-3) needed to win if they were going to keep their division title hopes alive and the home side delivered a 12-10 triumph over the previously undefeated Buffalo Bandits (6-1) on Saturday night at FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton, ON.

“It was kind of a reversal, we’ve been very good in the second half of games this year, and slow starting, but tonight it was kind of reversed,” Rock Head Coach Matt Sawyer said of his team’s great start to this game.  “Our first half was real good but in the third we struggled in a few different areas, and it ended up being a ball game.  We’re limiting the quality chances, Buffalo’s a real good offence, a real good team, and our guys did a good job tonight.”

For the first time in seven outings, the Bandits were playing catchup as they had scored the opening goal in every game they had played coming into tonight.  The Rock scored early and often, building a 4-1 lead after one quarter.

Buffalo rebounded in a big way in the second stanza, scoring three straight goals to tie the score 4-4.  Just 20 seconds after that tying goal, the Rock quickly stole the momentum back, scoring three goals in just 87 seconds.  Moments later, a transition goal from Brandon Slade ran the Rock lead to 8-4 at the break.

The Bandits needed goals and stops and they got both to open the second half.  Buffalo’s defence and their goaltender Matt Vinc, slammed the door on the offence holding them scoreless in the third.  Two visitor goals pulled the Bandits to within a pair at the end of three quarters.

Both teams scored early in the fourth quarter to make the score 9-7 Rock.  The Bandits once again showed they were going to do everything possible to protect their perfect record and tied the game 9-9 with 7:03 remaining.

With just over five minutes to play, Rock defender Mitch de Snoo added to an already stellar defensive game by burying a transition goal, sinking his former team.  Dan Craig and Rob Hellyer rounded out the Rock scoring and increasing their lead to 12-9 with 1:43 to go.  Buffalo added one late, but the Rock had come out on top.

In reference to that defensive effort from de Snoo, he recorded 14 loose balls and caused three turnovers to earn the game’s first star.

“That’s a big statement game for us.  Lots of things to clean up but it’s a great feeling to come out of that one on the right side,” said de Snoo.  “We’re a big athletic group and we’ve been strong on defence all year.  For me personally, I’m really getting to know the style of how everybody plays here, and we just stuck to the game plan and played hard.”

Not to be overlooked in the Rock win is the goaltending performance of Nick Rose.  The resurgence of the Rock’s number one netminder over the last few outings also saw him pick up three assists tonight, including a beautiful pass that sprung de Snoo for his goal.  Rose, who turned 34 on Friday, made 47 saves for his fifth win of the season.

Toronto outshot Buffalo 48-47.  The Rock were 2-for-5 on the power play while Buffalo was 2-for-4.

A number of Rock milestones were achieved in the win.  Defender Brad Kri played his 100th NLL game, Tom Schreiber eclipsed the 300 career points mark and Rob Hellyer surged past Stephan Leblanc for sole possession of fifth spot on the Rock’s all-time assists leader list.

The Rock’s next game will be away from home next Saturday night as they tangle with the Albany FireWolves.  Fans can watch the game on TSN Direct at 7pm ET.

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