The Buffalo Bandits (6-2) came to Toronto on a five game winning streak to face the Toronto Rock (5-2) at the Scotiabank Arena in National Lacrosse League (NLL) action, in front of a Sunday afternoon crowd of 7,021.
Both teams have been battling the injury bug of late, with Toronto missing Adam Jones, Tom Schreiber, Latrell Harris, and Brandon Slade, while Buffalo was missing Steve Priolo, and Nick Weiss from their lineups.
The game was a typical Rock/Bandits game, with a little of everything. There was finesse in scoring, tight checking, excellent goaltending, rough play, and a chess match going on between the coaches. In the end the Rock came away with a decisive 13-9 victory, holding the Bandits to just one goal in the second half.
The Rock opened the game fast, scoring twice in under four minutes, when Dan Dawson (3g,4a) scored off a Reid Reinholdt pass at 2:08, followed by Josh Jubenville (1g,0a) scoring off a Sheldon Burns pass at 3:39. Toronto kept up the pressure scoring again at 9:06 when Rob Hellyer (3g,2a) converted a Bill Hostrawser pass, making it a 3-0 game.
The Bandits looked sluggish through most of the quarter, having played in Vancouver Friday night, then flying across the Country for the Sunday afternoon game.
Buffalo got on track late in the quarter when Ian Mackay (1g,1a) scored in transition off a perfect long lead pass from Matt Vinc at 9:29, followed by Josh Byrne converting a Chris Cloutier pass 0:20 seconds later, off a great individual effort flying through the crease.
After one quarter, Toronto 3 Buffalo 2.
The Bandits opened the second quarter tying the game when Dhane Smith (3g,0a) converted a Matt Gilray pass at 2:56.
Dan Dawson scored his second of the night when he leaped across the crease, putting in the far corner off a Reid Reinholdt pass at 4:27.
Mitch de Snoo made a beautiful pick up of a loose ball and sent Matt Gilray (2g,3a) in all alone on Nick Rose, who made no mistake, tying the game once again at 5:50, but the back and forth nature of this game had the Rock come right back when Reid Reinholdt (1g,3a) converting a Dan Dawson pass at 6:07 giving Toronto the lead once again.
The assist was Dan Dawson’s 900th career assist in the NLL.
Dhane Smith answered immediately for the Bandits, scoring off a Matt Spanger pass just 0:14 seconds later, followed by Chris Cloutier firing a Matt Gilray pass past Nick Rose (Rock goalie) at 7:20, giving the Bandits their first lead of the game.
It was a short lived lead as Rob Hellyer scored off a Dan Dawson feed just 0:20 seconds later, followed by Zach Manns firing a laser over the shoulder of Matt Vinc (Bandits goalie) from a Challen Rogers pass at 9:11 to again give Toronto the lead 7-6.
With an extra attacker on for a delayed penalty call against the Bandits, Challen Rogers fired a howitzer beating Matt Vinc off a Reid Reinholdt pass at 9:36.
Ironically, with the history of bad blood between these two teams, the delayed penalty would’ve been the first penalty call of the game.
Dhane Smith scored his third goal of the quarter off a Josh Byrne pass with an outside shot to the shortside at 10:30.
Corey Small got the second assist on the play, which was his 100th point as a Bandit.
Josh Byrne scored his second of the night when he converted a Chris Cloutier pass at 13:14.
The game had a definite edge to it, with a lot of trash talk, chippy play, and scrums, but the officiating crew did a great job in keeping a lid on anything brewing, keeping up the flow of the game.
At the half, Rock 8 Bandits 8
The third quarter opened with David Brock (2g,0a) scoring a beautiful transition goal off a lead pass from Nick Rose at 5:06.
Both teams played a tight checking game, with absolutely fantastic saves from both goalies to keep this a one goal game.
After three quarters, Toronto 9 Buffalo 8.
The fourth quarter started with Scott “Flash” Dominey showing why he is such a threat in transition. Dominey out ran the Bandit defender going in on Matt Vinc, dove past the net while putting it in to the far side at 3:20.
Rob Hellyer scored his third of the game off a Dan Dawson pass at 6:46 making the score 11-8 for the Rock. Buffalo challenged the play, but on further review it was deemed a good goal.
The goal was Rob Hellyer’s 200th career NLL goal.
Dan Dawson increased the lead to 12-8 when he converted a Rob Hellyer pass at 10:15.
Buffalo scored their only goal of the second half when Matt Gilray converted an Ian Mackay pass in transition at 12:21 (29:06 between goals).
Toronto finished off the scoring with a David Brock empty net goal to seal the victory.
Final score, Toronto 13 Buffalo 9.
“We were pretty good in the first, but I thought overall the game was sloppy. Had we been a little bit sharper, maybe we could have had a bit more separation than 8-8 (at the half), but it’s a good win for us for sure,” said Rock Head Coach Matt Sawyer.
“We came out hot in the first quarter, but the second quarter kind of got away from us,” said Nick Rose. “A great second half for us, defensively that was probably our best half of the season and the offence was great all night. It was a great team win.”
Buffalo outshot Toronto 53-48.
The Rock won the loose ball battle 77-68.
Toronto won the faceoff battle 16-10.
Buffalo went 0 for 3 on the powerplay, while the Rock had no powerplay opportunities.
The Three Stars:
- Nick Rose
- Dan Dawson
- Rob Hellyer
Matt Gilray 2g, 3a
Dhane Smith 3g, 0a
Josh Byrne 2g, 1a
Dan Dawson 3g, 4a
Rob Hellyer 3g, 2a
Reid Reinholdt 1g, 3a
Buffalo’s next game is at home at the KeyBank Center, Saturday February 15th against the Philadelphia Wings. Game time is 7pm.
Toronto’s next game is at home in the Scotiabank Arena, Saturday February 15th against the Vancouver Warriors. Game time is 7pm.
Quotes courtesy of the Toronto Rock
(Photo Credits: Gary Groob)