BUFFALO – A strong defense, solid goaltending and discipline led the Buffalo Bandits to their first home win over the Rock in team history, a 12-9 victory at the HSBC Arena.
It’s the first time in the Rock’s franchise history they have lost four games in a row or started the season 0-4.
Colin Doyle led the Rock with two goals and five assists. Blaine Manning ended his slump, notching three goals and adding a pair of helpers.
In the first quarter, the Rock emerged with a 3-2 victory after scoring two early goals from Blaine Manning and another from Colin Doyle on the power play.
Buffalo crawled back into the game but Bob Watson ensured the Rock ended the quarter with the lead, making a huge save on Delby Powless alone on the crease with just 3 minutes remaining in the frame.
Jim Veltman also scooped up his 1,500th career regular season loose ball six minutes into the first quarter. He is only a few loose balls shy of 2,000 career loose balls in regular season and playoff play combined.
Early in the second quarter, Bandits enforcer Troy Bonterre and defender Kyle Couling took a pair of needless penalties, but the Rock powerplay failed to collect on the advantage.
Both Watson and Bandits keeper Steve Dietrich continued their solid play late in the quarter.
Bandits forward Cory Bomberry scored the first goal of the second quarter, popping in a rebound after Watson made a sensational save.
With Chris Driscoll in the box, Buffalo took its first lead of the game on the powerplay when Lindsay Plunkett took a nice pass from Bomberry and buried it past Watson.
But less than a minute later Rock forward Rusty Kruger tied it at 4-4, assisted by Josh Sanderson’s effective screen on Dietrich on the outside shot. With Dietrich pulled at the end of the half, the Bandits were unable to take the lead as Toronto played some great 6-on-5 defense.
In the second half, things fell apart for the Rock and they were once again playing catch up. Twenty-nine seconds into the frame, Josh Sanderson got stripped by Bandits captain Pat McCready who went in all alone and scored on the breakaway. The Bandits built a 7-4 lead before and the Rock responded with two powerplay goals and a single at even strength to tie it at 7-7 with 4:32 left in the third quarter.
But the Bandits kept reclaiming the momentum. Buffalo restored the lead back with three consecutive late tallies in the third within 43 seconds. It started when Billy Dee Smith bowled his way to the net for his second goal of the game, beating defenders Scott Campbell, Brian Beisel and Derek Suddons before putting it past Watson low. Then Powless scored another just seconds later, followed by Dan Teat’s powerplay marker to make it 10-7. In the fourth quarter, Josh Sanderson scored a quick goal on the powerplay, but the Bandits replied with two of their own to put the Rock behind the 8-ball once again.
A late fourth-quarter surge would not be enough as Steve Dietrich limited the rebounds and Buffalo played a sound, controlled game down the stretch for the win.
At times, the Rock looked great, but at others giveaways and untimely penalties proved to cost them. On Plunkett’s second goal of the game, Doyle gave ball away as he did not see Plunkett come out of the penalty box to guard captain Jim Veltman. Plunkett intercepted the pass and scored on the ensuing breakaway.
Veltman and defensive stalwart Phil Sanderson scored their only goals of the game too little too late in the Rock’s comeback bid.
After practice on Wednesday Jan. 25 at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena in Hagersville, the Rock will look for their first win of the season when they host the expansion Edmonton Rush on Jan. 27 at 7:30 p.m. at the Air Canada Centre. In the game, PROLINE will be awarding some great prizes for Rock fans.
For tickets, call (416) 872-5000 or visit www.ticketmaster.ca.
National Lacrosse League
BANDITS 13, ROCK 9
(At HSBC Arena)
1. Toronto Manning (Doyle, Wilson) 3:04 4-on-4
2. Toronto Manning 2 (Beisel, Veltman) 4:50 ea
3. Toronto Doyle (J. Sanderson) 9:35 pp
4. Buffalo Tavares (Shannon) 9:53
5. Buffalo Steenhuis (McCready) 12:32
Penalties – Tor Campbell (roughing) 1:49; Buf Powless (roughing) 1:49; Buf Smith (goaltender interference) 5:25; Tor Wilson (slashing) 6:34; Buf Kazarian (holding) 8:32; Tor Ladouceur (holding) 13:29.
6. Buf Bomberry (Tavares) 6:55
7. Buf Plunkett (Bomberry, Tavares) 10:39 pp
8. Tor Kruger (Doyle, J. Sanderson) 12:03
Penalties – Buf Couling (checking from behind) 1:29; Buf Bonterre (roughing) 1:29; Tor Driscoll (holding) 10:25;
9. Buf McCready (unassisted) 0:29
10. Buf Tavares 2 (Powless, Teat) 1:47 pp
11. Buf Smith (Steenhuis, Bomberry) 2:32
12. Tor Wilson (Manning, Kruger) 4:20
13. Tor Manning 3 (J. Sanderson, Doyle) 6:02 pp
14. Tor Doyle 2 (J. Sanderson, Wilson) 15:28 pp
15. Buf Smith 2 (Shannon, Couling) 11:32.
16. Buf Powless (Tavares) 11:57.
17. Buf Teat (Powless, Plunkett) 12:15.
Penalties – Tor Wilson (tripping) 1:27; Buf McCready (checking from behind) 4:13; Tor P. Sanderson (holding) 6:34; Buf Bonterre (elbowing) 9:02; Buf Bonterre (double minor roughing) 13:55; Buf Kilgour (checking from behind) 13:55.
18. Tor J. Sanderson (Doyle, Manning) 0:56 pp
19. Buf Plunkett 2 (unassisted) 5:10
20. Buf Plunkett 3 (Tavares, Powless) 9:26
21. Tor Veltman (Doyle, J. Sanderson) 13:29 ea
22. Buf Steenhuis 2 (Tavares, Shannon) 13:57.
23. Tor P. Sanderson (unassisted) 14:51.
Penalties – Tor Merrill (holding) 0:07; Buf Plunkett (goalie interference) 2:56; Tor P. Sanderson (holding) 6:11; Tor Kruger (tripping) 9:16; Buf Kazarian (checking from behind) 13:29.
Buffalo 51; Toronto 49
Goalies: Toronto – Watson (38 saves, 51 shots); Buffalo – Dietrich (39 saves, 49 shots).
Powerplays: Toronto – 4/10; Buffalo – 3/8.
Referees – Roy Condon, Dave Berman; Tech Referee – Richard Michalzak.
Attendance – 13,072.