Bandits To The League – This Is OUR Year!

The Buffalo Bandits, fresh off their dominating win the previous night in Buffalo, headed to FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton, Ontario needing just one victory to head to the NLL finals for the third consecutive season.

Toronto, with their backs against the wall needed a much better effort from everyone if they hoped to stave off elimination and force a game three in Buffalo the following Saturday night.

The goalie match-up was a repeat of the previous night with Matt Vinc for the Bandits facing Nick Rose for the Rock.

The first quarter was very evenly played, but two 5 minute penalties to the Rock later in the first half opened the flood gates.  Although back in full strength after giving up two goals, with Challen Rogers off the floor serving his five minute penalty, the Bandits compiled seven goals in 3:49, to take a commanding 11-4 lead to halftime.   Josh Jubenville took the second five minute penalty that was broken up with halftime, but the damage had already been done. 

Toronto tried to get on track in the second half, but for the second straight night, the Bandits defense had an answer for everything the Rock attempted.  By the start of the fourth quarter the result was inevitable with the Bandits leading 14-7.  Buffalo kept their foot on the gas throughout the quarter choking the life out of the Toronto Rock’s season, winning convincingly 17-8.

Chris Cloutier (6g,2a) led the Bandits with a barrage of scoring punch.  Josh Byrne (2g,8a) and Dhane Smith (3g,5a) were major forces as well.  Tehoka Nanticoke (3g,1a) was an absolute bulldozer on the floor, disrupti g Toronto all night long.

A special note has to be made about the Bandits defense.  The two lower anchors played so low that they almost became a second and third goalie to Matt Vinc.  Not many good shots made it through.  As well, they were athletic enough to get out and double team shooters and blocl passing lanes, making it really frustrating to the Rock offense.

To The Game:

The Bandits opened the scoring when Brad McCulley caught Josh Byrne on the move with an excellent pass.  Byrne took flight and beat Nick Rose to the far corner at 1:19.

Corey Small evened the game with a shot over Matt Vinc’s shoulder off a Dan Dawson pass at 2:48.  Dhane Smith then regained the lead for Buffalo with a shot to the stick side of Rose off a Josh Byrne feed at 6:49, but Phil Mazzuca pounced back in transition just 0:07 seconds later to tie the game once again. 

Tehoka Nanticoke scored for Buffalo shorthanded as he was able Pick the corner while on the move at 10:25, but Corey Small answered with his second of the night, grabbing his own rebound at 12:15.

After one quarter, Buffalo 3 Toronto 3.

Second Quarter:

Chris Cloutier opened the second quarter scoring shorthanded with a laser to the farside off a Steve Priolo pass at 3:18.  Toronto tied the game once again with a blast from Dan Craig on the power-play 0:22 seconds later.

Challen Rogers took a five minute cross-checking penalty that changed the game.

Chris Cloutier scored his second of the night off a Dhane Smith rebound on the power-play at 6:52, followed by Smith himself scoring on the power-play off a Josh Byrne feed at 7:24.

Although Toronto went back to full strength, Rogers was still in the box serving the rest of his penalty.

The Bandits continued the onslaught with Cloutier scoring his third of the game eith a twister off a Josh Byrne pass at 8:28, followed by Tehoka Nanticoke with a blast to the top corner 0:10 seconds later. 

Troy Holowchuk went in the Toronto goal.

Cloutier added his fourth of the night with a bounce shot from the outside off a Kyle Buchanan pass at 10:09.

Nick Rose went back in the Rock net. 

Tehoka Nanticoke welcomed Rose back in the net scoring his third of the game just 0:13 seconds into his return, followed by Chase Fraser with a laser to the far corner 0:19 seconds after that. 

To add to the Rock problems, as soon as Rogers got out of the penalty box Josh Jubenville took a five minute high-sticking penalty.

At the half, Buffalo 11 Toronto 4.

Third Quarter:

Josh Jubenville got the Rock on the board to start the third quarter scoring in transition off a Latrell Harris feed at 3:28, but Justin Robinson answered for the Bandits going coast to coast on a loose ball 0:30 seconds later. 

Dan Craig scored on the power-play with a quick stick that beat Matt Vinc off a Challen Rogers pass at 6:41, but again was answered by Dhane Smith off a Josh Byrne feed at 7:49.  Craig scored again on the power-play off a Dan Dawson pass at 11:17, but Josh Byrne with another dive to the corner scored off a Chris Cloutier pass at 14:25.

After three quarters, Buffalo 14 Toronto 7.

Fourth Quarter:

The quarter saw a juggling of Toronto goalies.  Nick Rose and Troy Holowchuk took turns in net.

Brandon Slade opened the fourth quarter scoring converting a Greg Downing feed in transition at 4:16, but three goals from the Bandits in 2:17 put an exclamation point on this game and this series.

Chris Cloutier scored his fifth of the night off a Dhane Smith pass at 7:24, followed by Steve Priolo into an empty net 0:28 seconds later.  Chris Cloutier scored his sock-trick (6th) goal again off a Dhane Smith pass at 9:41. 

Although the Bandits didn’t increase the lead further, they controlled the remainder of play for the lopsided win.

Final score, Buffalo 17 Toronto 8.

The Three Stars:

  1. Chris Cloutier
  2. Dhane Smith
  3. Matt Vinc

Game Stats:

  • Shots on goal favored Buffalo 57-47.
  • The faceoff battle went to the Rock 16-13.
  • The loose ball battle was won by Toronto 83-59.
  • Buffalo went 2 for 4 on the power-play, also scoring 2 shorthanded goals.
  • Toronto went 3 for 5 on the power-play.

Top Scorers:

Buffalo Bandits:

  • Josh Byrne 2g, 8a
  • Chris Cloutier 6g, 2a
  • Dhane Smith 3g, 5a

Toronto Rock:

  • Dan Craig 3g, 0a
  • Corey Small 2g, 1a
  • Phil Mazzuca 1g, 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.