Bandits Make Big Statement In Game One Victory Over Rock

The Buffalo Bandits hosted game one of the East Conference Finals against the Toronto Rock at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, NY.

A Tale of the Tape:

Buffalo is led by last year’s league MVP Dhane Smith (36g,96a), with a support cast of Josh Byrne (43g,50a), Kyle Buchanan (21g,37a), Tehoka Nanticoke (21g,18a), and Chris Cloutier (17g,19a).  As shown in the quarter finals game, they are explosive both in offense and in transition.  Ian MacKay and Steve Priolo can go coast to coast on any loose ball, adding another dimension to the offense.

Matt Vinc in net is always the wild card.  An eight time goalie of the year and three time NLL champion, Vinc is a soon to be a first ballot Hall of Famer.

Toronto counters with Tom Schreiber (48g,68a), Stephen Keogh (26g, 28a), Challen Rogers (20g, 29a), Corey Small (40g, 43a)) and Dan Craig (35g, 47a) for an equally potent offense.  Transitionally the Rock Have Latrell Harris, Adam Jay, and Sheldon Burns to make oppositions uncomfortable.

Nick Rose had a career year keeping opponents under ten goals 10 times this year.  Rose finished the year with a league best 9.03 GAA, only giving up 159 goals all season.

The goalie match-up had Matt Vinc in net for the Bandits facing Nick Rose in net for Toronto.

As promised, this game was an intense, aggressive game, with neither team giving an inch to start.  The Bandits, on the strength of Josh Byrne (5g,1a), Dhane Smith (0g,8a), Chris Cloutier (2g,1a), Kyle Buchanan (1g,2a) and Tehoka Nanticoke (2g,1a) got out to a 13-4 lead in the third quarter, scoring in every fashion imaginable.  Matt Vinc was stellar in net making 52 saves in the 14-5 win, to take game one of the best two out of three series.

To The Game:

The Bandits got on the board early with a laser from Josh Byrne off a Dhane Smith feed at just 0:30 seconds.  Tom Schreiber answered back for the Rock with an outside shot to the far post off a Challen Rogers pass at 4:38.  Buffalo regained the lead with a beautiful individual effort by Tehoka Nanticoke diving across the crease off a Dhane Smith pass at 8:12, followed by Chase Fraser blasting a shot to the shortside beating Nick Rose 0:16 seconds later. 

Challen Rogers got the Rock back in the game with an outside shot to Vinc’s stick side off a Tom Schreiber pass at 8:51, but Justin Robinson got it back in transition off a Matt Spanger pass, scoring to the shortside at 9:35.  With the teams playing 4 on 4, Rogers scored his second of the night of a Zach Manns pass with a fadeaway bounce shot at 12:20.

After one quarter, Buffalo 4 Toronto 3.

Second Quarter:

Josh Byrne scored two in a row for the Bandits. First diving across the crease to finish a Dhane Smith pass at 8:56, followed by a laser from the outside off a Kyle Buchanan feed 0:29 seconds later.  Challen Rogers then scored his third goal of the night for Toronto, scoring to the far side off a Dan Craig pass at 11:28, but Tehoka Nanticoke got his second of the night to regain the three goal Bandits lead at 12:23. 

At the half, Buffalo 7 Toronto 4.

Third Quarter:

Chase Fraser got the Bandits rolling in the second half converting a Dhane Smith rebound at 1:29, followed by Ian MacKay grabbing a loose ball, going coast to coast scoring on a breakaway at 3:31.   Josh Byrne showed great athleticism diving one way, scoring the other off a Kyle Buchanan feed at 6:05, followed by Buchanan himself scoring on a delayed penalty off a Chris Cloutier pass 0:25 seconds later.

Toronto replaced Nick Rose with Troy Holowchuk in net.

Josh Byrne added his fifth of the night with a howitzer from the outside off a Nick Weiss feed at 7:20.   Chris Cloutier scored his first of the night firing a laser from the outside off a Dhane Smith pass at 14:18.

After three quarters, Buffalo 13 Toronto 4.

Fourth Quarter:

The Rock finally got back on the board with Tom Schreiber throwing a fake then scoring off a Zach Manns pass at 0:21 seconds, but the Bandits defense were on their game, frustrating Toronto time and time again.

Chris Cloutier scored his second of the night on the power-play off a Dhane Smith feed at 8:32.

Final score, Buffalo 14 Toronto 5.

The Three Stars:

3. Dhane Smith

2. Josh Byrne

1. Matt Vinc

Game Stats:

  • Shots on goal had Toronto outshoot Buffalo 57-41.
  • The faceoff battle had the Rock dominate the X 17-6.
  • The loose ball battle went to Toronto 60-54.
  • Toronto went 0-4 on the power-play, while Buffalo went 2 for 5.

Top Scorers:

Toronto Rock:

  • Challen Rogers 3g, 2a
  • Tom Schreiber 2g, 2a
  • Zach Manns 0g, 3a

Buffalo Bandits:

  • Dhane Smith 0g, 8a
  • Josh Byrne 5g, 2a
  • Chris Cloutier 2g,1a
  • Tehoka Nanticoke 2g, 1a

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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.