Bandits Rally Late To Grab Huge Victory Over The Rock

The Buffalo Bandits (7-6) hosted the Toronto Rock (11-3) on Saturday at KeyBank Center in front of 18,463.  Buffalo won their only other meeting this season 16-14 back in January.

The Bandits faced the league-leading Toronto Rock, who is the only team in the NLL to reach 11 wins so far this season. The Rock have averaged 9.50 goals against per game this season as their defense and goalie Nick Rose have propelled them to their success so far.  The Rock offense has been finding their identity as the season has gone on. Mark Matthews leads the team in points with 73. His 52 assists rank third in the NLL tied with Byrne. Tom Schreiber returned from injury after their first five games and has led the team in points per game with six since then.

“Obviously this is a rivalry going way back but I also think in recent history we’ve met in the playoffs pretty much every year for the last three years and they always become heated battles,” Said Bandits forward Josh Byrne. “We’re two great teams going head-to-head which usually ends up in a pretty damn good lacrosse game.”

Quote courtesy of the Buffalo Bandits

Through twelve games Josh Byrne (35g,52a) and Dhane Smith (15g,68a) lead the powerful Bandits offense.  Chris Cloutier (22g,22a) and Chase Fraser (22g,17a) have been quite dangerous as well.  With a healthy Tehoka Nanticoke (18g,9a), the Bandits can throw a lot of goals on the board.

The goalie match-up is Matt Vinc in net for the Bandits facing Nick Rose of the Rock.

This was yet another game that showed lacrosse is a game of runs.  The Bandits ended the first quarter with three straight to take a 6-5 lead, but Toronto answered with four in the second to head to halftime with a 9-6 lead.

With the Rock up 12-10 midway through the fourth, Buffalo got on a four goal run to come away with the 14-12 victory.

To The Game:

The Rocks’s Chris Boushy opened the scoring converting a Mark Matthews pass at 0:25 seconds, followed by Tom Schreiber with a low to low shot that beat Matt Vinc off a Dan Craig feed at 1:37.

Ian MacKay got Buffalo on the board going coast to coast shorthanded off a Nick Weiss pass at 3:31, but Josh Dawick fired a rope to the shortside off a Corey Small pass at 6:28 to increase Toronto’s lead.

The Bandits answered when Chase Fraser took flight in front of the net off a Nick Weiss pass at 7:03, but again the Rock answered when Corey Small fired an outside shot off a Josh Dawick pass only 0:57 seconds later.

Dhane Smith got on the board finishing a Josh Byrne pass at 10:30, but the Rock answered again when Chris Boushy scored on the power-play unassisted 0:33 seconds later.

The Bandits finally put a run together at the end of the quarter.   Goals from Tehoka Nanticoke, Dylan Robinson and Dhane Smith  gave the Bandits a one goal lead After one quarter.

After one quarter, Buffalo 6 Toronto 5.

Seconds Quarter:

This quarter belonged to Toronto, more specifically Corey Small, who scored three of his own in the frame.

A laser from Corey Small opened the second quarter scoring off a Dan Craig pass at 6:13, followed by a power-play goal from Chris Boushy eith a quick stick off a Mark Matthews pass at 9:54. 

Corey Small then scored his third and fourth of the evening.   First he scored in transition off a Justin Martin pass at 12:22, followed by a power-play goal off a Mark Matthews feed at 13:25.

At the half, Toronto 9 Buffalo 6.

Third Quarter:

Buffalo opened the third quarter scoring, after being shut up for 24:36. Josh Byrne fired a beautiful shot high to high off a Dhane Smith pass at 9:33.  Mark Matthews answered on the power-play with a howitzer from the outside off a Corey Small pass at 11:01, but with Chris Boushy serving a five minute boarding penalty, Tehoka Nanticoke grabbed a rebound and made no mistake from in close at 14:18.

After three quarters, Toronto 10 Buffalo 8.

Fourth Quarter:

The Bandits continued to gain momentum when Chase Fraser scored from in close seconds after the Boushy penalty expired at 2:31.  The Bandits then tied the game when Dhane Smith moved to the net, after two fakes beat Rose to the far corner off a Josh Byrne pass at 5:20. 

The Rock came back with a pair of their own.  Chris Boushy started it off from in close off a Tom Schreiber pass at 5:51, followed by Mark Matthews firing a Schreiber feed that Matt Vinc originally stopped, but momentum kept the ball rolling into the net 0:50 seconds later.

Buffalo wasted no time getting back in the game when Ian MacKay picked up a loose ball beside the net and put it behind Rose at 7:31, followed by Chris Cloutier firing a bullet low to low in transition off a Cam Wyers pass at 9:29.  Josh Byrne gave the Bandits the leaf with a leap across the crease off a Chase Fraser pass at 11:28.

Nick Weiss added an empty net goal for insurance as the Bandits came away with a heart stopping victory.

Final score, Buffalo 14 Toronto 12.

“Obviously we just weren’t good enough for the full 60,” said Rock Head Coach Matt Sawyer.  “There were lots of points in that game where you felt we had it under control and we got a three-goal lead there in the second half.  We have to figure it out.  We need to worry about ourselves and just make sure that we have our best game start to finish regardless of our opponent.”

Quote courtesy of the Toronto Rock

The Three Stars:

1. Dhane Smith
2. Matt Vinc
3. Josh Byrne

Game Stats:

The shots on goal favored the Rock 58-54.

The faceoff battle was dominated by Toronto 22-9.

Toronto won the loose ball battle 73-64.

Toronto went 4 for 8 on the power-play, while the Bandits went 1 for 6 with a shorthanded goal.

Top Scorers:

Toronto Rock:

  • Mark Matthews 2g, 4a
  • Tom Schreiber 1g, 5a
  • Dan Craig 0g, 4a

Buffalo Bandits:

  • Dhane Smith 3g, 4a
  • Josh Byrne 2g,5a
  • Nick Weiss 1g, 3a
  • Chris Cloutier 1g, 3a

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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.