BUFFALO PULLS OUT 11-10 COMEBACK WIN OVER ROCK
Bandits Clinch East Conference
Buffalo, NY – The Buffalo Bandits (13-4) staged a comeback win, defeating the Toronto Rock (13-5) by a score of 11-10 on Saturday night at FirstOntario Centre in Buffalo, NY. The Bandits’ win secured the East Conference’s top seed and home floor throughout the East Conference playoffs.
“I think it was just kind of a game of runs,” said Rock Captain Challen Rogers. “We threw the ball away a little bit there and we just weren’t valuing our possessions.”
The Rock opened the scoring with a staple goal, Latrell Harris ran the length of the floor and shot on the run beating Matt Vinc. The Rock wouldn’t get on the board again until a power play later in the quarter owned the ball and doubled up their lead when Challen Rogers delivered a tricky shot past the Buffalo netminder. The goal gave the Rock a 2-0 lead through one quarter. Nick Rose was incredibly good in the quarter stopping all 12 shots he faced.
With the Rock on the power play early in the quarter, Buffalo struck for a shorthanded marker to make it a 2-1 game. Tom Schreiber scored just over a minute later to restore the Rock’s two-goal lead.
What followed was an interesting scenario that saw Buffalo Captain Steve Priolo engage Rock defender Mitch de Snoo and the two wrestled to the ground. Both players received five minutes for fighting. The Bandits got some momentum from the scrum and their fans. Bandits’ forward Josh Byrne would score on a long shot to make it a one-goal game once again.
With 12 seconds remaining in the half, the Rock called timeout. Coming out of the stoppage, the Rock made a tic-tac-toe passing play that got the ball to Stephen Keogh in front of the Bandits’ goal and he ripped a low shot past Vinc to give the Rock a 4-2 lead at halftime.
The third quarter was a wild one. Rogers scored to give the Rock a 5-2 lead just over two minutes in, but what followed was a four-goal run by Buffalo to give them a 6-5 lead, their first of the night. Twenty seconds later, Schreiber evened the score and 19 seconds after that, the Rock’s top scorer potted his third of the game to put the Rock back on top, 7-6. Buffalo tied it 7-7, but Corey Small scored to put the visitors ahead 8-7, a lead the Rock would take into the fourth quarter.
The Rock got an early power play after Brad Kri was checked from behind following a breakaway chance. Toronto was unable to strike on the man advantage. Shortly after getting back to full strength, Buffalo’s Chase Fraser scored his third of the game to tie the score 8-8. Moments later, Rogers scored to give the Rock a 9-8 lead. Bandits’ coach John Tavares threw the challenge flag, however it was after the challenge window had expired and the goal stood.
The Bandits proceeded to reel off three goals in 1:36 to take an 11-9 lead, their largest of the game. Small scored with just under four minutes to go, but that was as close as the Rock could get, falling 11-10.
Schreiber’s third point of the night, a third quarter goal, marked his 115th point of the season which set a new Rock single-season points record. The old record had stood for over a decade with Garrett Billings scoring 112 points in 2012.
The Rock were 1-for-4 on the power play while the Bandits were 1-for-5 with the man advantage. Buffalo outshot Toronto 60-54.
“I think we just kind of take the negatives, learn from them, improve as individuals,” said Rogers. “We have two weeks here to be at our best. We put too much time and effort into this to blow it all away in one game.”
Tickets are on sale now for the Rock’s NLL Quarterfinals single-elimination playoff game on Friday, May 5 at FirstOntario Centre.