A Strong Fourth Gives The Bandits First In The East

The Toronto Rock (13-5)  took on the Buffalo Bandits (13-4) at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo, NY, in an East Division match-up that decided first place and home floor throughout the East Conference playoffs. 16,861 fans in Banditland were loud and energetic all night long.

Tale of the Tape

The Rock and Bandits boast two of the most complete teams in the league.  Offensively Toronto has Tom Schreiber  (45g,67a), Dan Craig (35g,45a), Corey Small (38g,39a), Stephen Keogh (26g,51a), and Challen Rogers (26g,43a).  All have been forces all year long.  The Bandits answer with Dhane Smith (32g,87a), Josh Byrne (37g,42a), and Kyle Buchanan (19g,32a), with Chase Fraser, Chris Cloutier, and Tehoka Nanticoke playing sparingly do to injuries this season.

Defensively Toronto has the stingiest defense in the league, giving up only 153 goals this season (9 goals per game).  Nick Rose has the league’s best goals-against average (gaa) at 8.91. Rose has held opponents under 10 goals 10 times this season.  Buffalo has also been impressive, giving up only 171 goals this season.  Eight time goalie of the year, and future hall of famer Matt Vinc has only given up 164 goals this year (10.51 gaa), and is very instrumental in the team’s defensive success. 

This game had a goaltending match-up for the ages, with two of the best facing each other.  Matt Vinc for the Bandits against Nick Rose for Toronto.

A tale of two games had a defensive struggle in the first half, followed by an eruption of highlight reel goals in the second.  Nick Rose and Matt Vinc both showed why they are the best in the league, with each out doing the other time after time all night. 

The Bandits, led by Dhane Smith (2g,5a) and Josh Byrne (3g,3a) put together a strong fourth quarter, pulling away from Toronto.  The Rock, showing how resilient they were, brought the game within one goal with just over a minute to go.  Matt Vinc and the Buffalo defense were able to withstand the Toronto challenges en route to an 11-10 victory, securing first place in the East Division this season.

To The Game:

In a quarter that showcased the defense and goaltending of each team, Toronto came away with the only goals.  The Rock opened the scoring with Latrell Harris in transition unassisted at 1:55, followed by Challen Rogers increasing the lead on the power-play off a Corey Small pass at 10:44.

After one quarter, Toronto 2 Buffalo 0.

Second Quarter:

Dhane Smith finally got the Bandits on the board with a shorthanded goal off a Nick Weiss pass at 1:10, but Toronto answered back with a howitzer from Tom Schreiber off a Corey Small feed at 2:45. 

Josh Byrne brought Buffalo within one with a low to low shot that caught the far corner at 5:28.   With 0:11 seconds left in the half, the Rock took a timeout to draw up the final play.  Stephen Keogh converted a Corey Small feed with 0:03.3 seconds to give Toronto a two goal lead going into halftime.

At the half Toronto 4 Buffalo 2.

  • Shots on goal at the half were 31-27 in favor of the Rock.

Third Quarter:

Challen Rogers opened the second half scoring with a bounce shot that went over Matt Vinc’s shoulder off a Stephen Keogh feed at 2:12. Josh Byrne scored high to low on the power-play off a Dhane Smith feed at 3:57, followed by Smith himself scoring off a Kyle Buchanan pass at 4:57.   Chase Fraser tied the game picking the far corner from in close off a Josh Byrne pass at 6:02, and gave the Bandits the lead with a one handed underhand shot off a Chris Cloutier rebound at 7:05. 

The Rock stopped the bleeding with two lasers from Tom Schreiber.  The first was off a Challen Rogers pass at 7:35, followed by one in close again off a Challen Rogers feed just 0:20 seconds later.

The Bandits tied the game once again when Kyle Buchanan fired a behind the back shot past Nick Rose off a Dhane Smith pass at 8:13, but Toronto came back with a shot that just squeaked past Matt Vinc off a Corey Small shot at 10:06.

After three quarters, Toronto 8 Buffalo 7.

Fourth Quarter:

Buffalo opened the fourth quarter with Chase Fraser’s third of the night off a Kyle Buchanan pass at 4:15, but Toronto answered with Challen Rogers scoring off a Corey Small feed at 5:11.  Buffalo tried to challenge the goal, but was disallowed for throwing the flag too late.  Teams only have 0:20 seconds to challenge the play.

The Bandits again tied the game when Ian MacKay converted a Chris Cloutier pass at 8:12, followed by Tehoka Nanticoke from in close beating Rose low to the stick side at 9:07.  Josh Byrne then fired a howitzer off a Kyle Buchanan pass 0:39 seconds later to give the Bandits a two goal lead. 

The Rock pulled within one goal when Corey Small blasted a shot off a Zach Manns pass at 11:15.  Toronto threw everything at Buffalo in the final moments, but couldn’t beat Matt Vinc.

Final score, Buffalo 11 Toronto 10.

The Three Stars:

  1. Dhane Smith
  2. Challen Rogers
  3. Josh Byrne

Game Stats:

  • Buffalo outshot the Rock 60-54
  • The faceoff battle went to Toronto 15-10.
  • The Rock won the loose ball battle 73-64.
  • Buffalo went 1 for 5 on the power-play, also scoring a shorthanded goal.
  • Toronto went 1 for 4 with the man advantage.

Top Scorers:

Toronto Rock:

  • Challen Rogers 3g, 3a
  • Corey Small 2g, 4a
  • Tom Schreiber 3g, 1a

Buffalo Bandits:

  • Dhane Smith 2g, 5a
  • Josh Byrne 3g, 3a
  • Kyle Buchanan 1g, 3a

Don’t forget to check us out every Sunday night at 9pm (ET) on eopsports.com

Gary Groob
Gary Groob

Gary Groob has been involved with Lacrosse for the majority of his life, whether playing, coaching, or covering the sport for the media.

An avid fan, with a real drive about helping to “grow the game”, Gary became part of podcasts about the game in 2010. Through the podcasts, Mr. Groob was given an opportunity to write about lacrosse, and the rest as they say, is history.

Through many miles (flying and driving) Gary has made inroads with the National Lacrosse League, Major Series Lacrosse League, the Ontario Lacrosse Association, as well as the Arena Lacrosse League, covering the leagues, their teams, and players, working for, and in concert with all of them.

In the year 2020, Mr. Groob was made the media person for the Arena Lacrosse League, voted onto the board of directors of the Brampton Excelsiors Lacrosse Club, as well as being made administrator of the Lacrosse page “Global Lacrosse” with a membership of 9000 members in over 90 Countries. Gary was also made an administrator of Lacrosse History Past Present and Future in 2022.

Mr. Groob co-hosts a weekly Lacrosse show on Spanglish Sports World, and ZingoTV channel 250, as well as writes a weekly lacrosse column for La Portada Canada News (both in print, and online).

Gary also hosts a Lacrosse talk show and podcast for The Edge of Philly Sports Network, seen live Sunday nights at 9pm (ET), and archived on the Edge of Philly YouTube page, as well as Spotify.

Mr. Groob’s other sports interests include Hockey, Football, Boxing, Wrestling, and Baseball, competing competitively in Boxing and Wrestling for many years.