The Toronto Rock advance to the National Lacrosse League East Division Final game in dramatic fashion after beating the Buffalo Bandits 13-11 at the Air Canada Centre.
After falling to the Buffalo Bandits twice in the 2010 regular season, the Rock fought back from a 6-0 deficit in the second quarter to take the single-win elimination game.
Rock rookie Stephan Leblanc was named game MVP for a team leading eight points from five goals and three assists. Bob Watson recorded the win in Toronto’s net.
Mike Accursi scored six goals and assisted on three others for the Bandits.
Roger Vyse was the first to score for the Bandits, three minutes into the game. The up-tempo defence that both teams pride themselves on took over for the next eight minutes until Brett Bucktooth got past Watson to end the quarter with Buffalo up 2-0.
Bucktooth continued his streak into the second quarter followed by Mark Steenhuis and Mike Accursi. Toronto opted for a goalie change, but Accursi struck again to get past Steve Dietrich. Rookie Stephan Leblanc got Toronto onto the board to bring the game to 6-1 followed immediately off the faceoff by Blaine Manning to narrow the Bandit lead. Accursi was next, which brought Watson back onto the turf sparking Leblanc’s second goal. Colin Doyle followed suit picking the top left corner of Mike Thompson’s net.
Accursi struck again for Buffalo to start the second half, but it was quickly answered by Doyle. The game continued back and forth with another from Accursi and a Rock goal from Mike Hominuck. Leblanc recorded the hat trick on the powerplay to bring the Toronto tally to seven. Steenhuis followed up with number 10 for the Bandits. Leblanc kept it within two, scoring his fourth of the game.
Doyle began the final quarter with a goal, his third of the night, but it was answered by Accursi’s sixth. Manning drained the tenth for Toronto to bring it within one, and Garrett Billings followed to tie it up. Leblanc and Doyle continued the Rock roll to put Toronto up by two, their first lead of the game. The clock wound down, as the crowd got on their feet cheering on the Rock as they held onto the 13-11 win.
In the other East Division Semi-Final, the Orlando Titans defeated the Boston Blazers 12-11. The Toronto Rock will head to Orlando next weekend to battle for the East Division title. Game date and time are TBA.
Fans can continue following the Rock on the road to the Champion’s Cup by checking out the Toronto Rock website at www.torontorock.com. Game times will be posted when they become available.