TIME RUNS OUT ON ROCK COMEBACK
Buffalo Wins Game 2 10-9 And Takes East Conference Finals 2-0
Time ran out on the Rock’s comeback, literally. The Buffalo Bandits escaped FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton with a 10-9 win over the Toronto Rock after a last second shot by the home side to tie the game entered the goal a fraction of a second too late.
The Buffalo win gives them a 2-0 series sweep of the East Conference Finals and the Bandits now advance to the NLL Finals to face the West Conference champion.
After it looked as though time was going to run out, Dan Dawson picked up a loose ball and swiftly moved it to Challen Rogers who then fired a no look pass down to Dan Craig on the crease who released a quick stick from the edge of the goal crease that beat Buffalo goalie Matt Vinc. The original call on the floor was a good goal, however after an official review it was determined the ball entered the goal after the arena game clock had hit zero.
“A lot of what ifs over the two games, but this was a group that just continued to get up off the mat and claw their way back,” said Rock Head Coach Matt Sawyer. “Sometimes you need to experience these moments and taste how close we were as a team to figure out how to get it done. It’s a tough one for sure.”
This series featured the first and second place teams from the NLL regular season and it didn’t disappoint for a second. A longer series would have delivered even more edge-of-your-seat moments without a doubt.
“Give credit to Buffalo, they strung together two of the best games they played all year,” said Rock captain Challen Rogers. “You can’t knock our effort. It was a tough series and a tough result. It’s been a special year for this group, and I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
This game was a complete reversal of what we saw in game one that ended in an 18-17 final in favour of the Bandits. At the half, Buffalo held a 3-2 lead at the half and the visitors continued to lead 6-4 heading into the final quarter.
The Rock fell behind 9-5 just past the eight-minute mark of the fourth quarter but they once again dug deep and rattled off three goals in less than a minute to bring the building back to life and cut the deficit to 9-8.
Bandits’ forward Chase Fraser scored with 3:34 left to lift Buffalo up by a pair, 10-8. With 46 seconds left, Tom Schreiber scored his third goal of the game to set up the spectacular last second finish that fell short for the Rock.
Schreiber, as he did pretty much all season, led the offensive attack for the Rock with five points on three goals and two assists.
The showdown between this season’s top two goalies was once again decided by just a goal. Toronto’s Nick Rose made 39 saves while Vinc made 42 stops in the Buffalo cage.
Buffalo went 2-for-3 on the power play, with both of their extra man goals coming in the third quarter. The Rock had just one chance with the man advantage but didn’t convert, going 0-for-1.
The Rock will now begin to prepare for the Las Vegas expansion draft this summer as well as what should be a pretty busy free agency period.