BUFFALO TAKES WILD GAME ONE 18-17 OVER ROCK
Series Shifts Back To Rock City Next Weekend
The Toronto Rock took this game right down to the wire, falling 18-17 to the Buffalo Bandits in game one of the best-of-3 East Conference Finals. The win gives Buffalo a 1-0 series lead.
Few would have expected such a high scoring affair, but every fan in the building certainly got their money’s worth and these two teams have certainly set the stage for a terrific series.
“It was a good game, unfortunately we came up short, it’s one you’d like to pull out,” said Rock Head Coach Matt Sawyer. “There’s all kinds of back and forth in those games. They say lacrosse is a game of runs and tonight was a great example. Each team had two or three of their own runs and unfortunately, we just came up bit short at the end.”
The two teams traded goals early and it was 2-2 before the game was five minutes old. The Bandits got on a roll and scored three straight, highlighted by their captain Steve Priolo scoring an unbelievable goal that started with stripping the ball from Rock defender Josh Jubenville behind the Rock net. Priolo worked his way out front and shoveled a shot towards the far post that found its way into the back of the net. Before the quarter was done, Rock forward Justin Scott stung a heavy shot to the top corner past Matt Vinc in the Buffalo goal, 5-3 the Bandits led through 15 minutes.
The Scott goal kickstarted what turned into a five-goal run, as the Rock scored the first four goals in the second quarter to take a 7-5 lead. Zach Manns scored his second and third goals of the game amidst the Rock offensive surge. The Bandits answered the Rock run, with a five-goal scoring barrage of their own to lead 10-7. But the Rock weren’t done as captain Challen Rogers ripped one short side with 1.5 seconds left on the clock to draw the visitors to within two, trailing 10-8 at the break.
After the Bandits had stretched their lead to 12-8, the Rock scored a pair to make it 12-10. Rogers made some room for himself, dragging a defender to the net with him and buried a diving effort past Vinc to make it 12-11. Tom Schreiber threw a no-look pass to Dan Craig who stepped into a shot that eluded the Buffalo keeper, finding the bottom corner and the game was tied 12-12 through three quarters.
Just over a minute into the fourth quarter, defender Brandon Slade found himself in the offensive end and fired a prayer that found twine. 1:34 later, Rogers scored his third goal of the game, and the Rock had a 14-12 lead. That lead was seemingly gone in an instant however as the Bandits struck for five in a row in just 3:39. Rob Hellyer’s second of the game broke up the run, but the Rock still trailed 17-15 with just over five minutes to play.
Scott scored his second of the game to once again, make it a one-goal contest. Buffalo got that one back less than a minute later to put Buffalo back up by a pair, 18-16. With just over ten seconds to play, Schreiber scored to make it 18-17 with one last possession to go. The Rock had their chance but couldn’t convert.
The Rock offence was led by Schreiber’s three goals, five assists and eight points. Manns was the top Rock goal scorer with four.
“It was an exciting game that we didn’t end up on the right side of,” said Schreiber. “We’ve got to turn it around, we’ve got another game in a couple of days, it’s a quick week. We’ll correct the mistakes, not get too down and be ready to go next week.”
The Rock were 0-for-1 on the power play, while the Bandits didn’t get a chance with the man advantage. Toronto outshot Buffalo 58-51.
The series will now shift back to Rock City for Game 2 of the best-of-3 East Conference Finals on Saturday at 7pm ET at FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton, ON.