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Rock Undefeated Streak Ends At The Hands Of the Bandits

Buffalo’s 7-Goal Run Is Too Much As Bandits Top Rock 16-14

Hamilton, ON – The Toronto Rock (5-1) had their undefeated streak snapped at the hands of the Buffalo Bandits (4-3), dropping a 16-14 decision to the defending NLL Champions on Saturday night at FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton in front of 8.586 fans.

This game certainly had several different chapters to it, but in the end, it was another classic between two longtime rivals.  A slow start, fall behind, battle back, fall behind again, and then a late rally falls short in the end.

“It certainly didn’t go our way,” said Rock Head Coach Matt Sawyer.  “We had some good fight there and sticking with it in the way we came out in the second half, but we said it again, for the second game in a row we start slow up front.  Then we have all the momentum, I think we outscored them 5-1 on a stretch to get to 9-9, and then two costly penalties. We only gave up one (goal), but we expended a lot of energy from our defenders and goaltending through those five minutes and that took our momentum away up front.”

At the end of the first quarter, the Bandits had earned the lone goal of the frame which was a shorthanded breakaway tally from Ian MacKay.  Both teams had their chances to do significantly more damage but the goaltending and defensive efforts at both ends of the floor kept the score at 1-0 through one with Buffalo leading.

A 7-4 second quarter was certainly one of the deciding factors in this game.  The teams were trading goals, but the Rock just couldn’t get on a run to get any traction in the frame and found themselves trailing 8-4 at halftime.

The Rock came out hot in the second half.  Phil Mazzuca scored off the opening draw, just 8 seconds into the third quarter.  Just over a minute later, the Rock had closed the gap to two goals on a Mark Matthews goal and Chris Boushy finished a nice pass from Matthews on the power play to make it a one-goal game with Buffalo up 8-7.  Buffalo broke up the brief Rock run to restore the Bandits’ two-goal edge.  Toronto rattled off a pair including the tying marker from Boushy.  With just over a minute to go in the quarter, Corey Small scored to give the Rock their only lead of the game, 10-9 through 45 minutes.

The final chapter in this game was nearly all Bandits.  A seven-goal run that included two empty net goals gave the visitors what seemed to be an insurmountable lead 16-10.  The Rock showed a great deal of fight, scoring four times in the final 1:45 of play to make the final 16-14.

After missing each of the Rock’s first five game, Tom Schreiber made his season debut and finished the night with two goals and four assists.

“It feels good (to be back),” said Schreiber.  “To be able to play and in front of this crowd, it’s an honour to play for this organization, so getting back out there was incredible.  It felt like a long time coming for me and it’s a disappointing result but in the long run I’m grateful to be back.”

The Rock were 1-for-4 on the power play while the Bandits went 3-for-6.

Next Saturday, the Rock will travel to Calgary to take on the Roughnecks in the first half of a home-and-home.  The game will be the NLL Game of the Week on TSN at 9pm ET.  The Rock return home on Saturday, February 10 on Country Night against the Roughnecks.

For more information on Toronto Rock tickets, please contact a Toronto Rock account executive by phone at 416-596-3075, by email at tickets@torontorock.com or visit torontorock.com.

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