NLL: Bandits best Rock by two

Saturday night the Buffalo Bandits (3-1) put an end to the Toronto Rock’s (3-2) three game winning streak 10-8 in Banditland in front of 12,026 fans at KeyBank Center.

Josh Byrne and Chase Fraser lead the way for the Bandits with hat tricks, while the defense and goaltender Matt Vinc kept the Toronto offense at an arms length distance. Rob Hellyer (5G/1A) led the offense while Challen Rogers (2G) and Dan Dawson(1G) also chipped in.

“I thought it was a five or six minute stretch in the second quarter that turned the game and they got some momentum,” said Rock head coach Matt Sawyer in a team press release. “It was a tough night for us up front and we were working and competing, but we need to get some balance between our right and left side scoring and find a way to execute on the power play. That’s all stuff that we are going to work on and get to work correcting it.”

After Toronto took a 3-1 lead after the first quarter, Buffalo took control of the game by going on a five-goal run and outscoring the Rock 6-2 in the second stanza. Both teams battled in the third quarter, but the turning point was Buffalo thwarting Toronto on a five-minute power-play with Josh Byrne in the box for high sticking. Byrne and Buffalo rubbed salt into that wound as 18 seconds after the penalty expired Byrne would score on a penalty shot after being checked from behind on a breakaway and give Buffalo an 8-5 lead.

Toronto would not go quietly. The Rock would score the next three goals to tie the game at eight half way through the final quarter. But at the 9:31 mark of the final quarter, Chris Cloutier would net his only goal, which would be the eventual game winner, with new addition Garrett Billings and Corey Small picking up the assists. Matt Gilray would add the empty net goal to seal the two-goal victory.

Toronto outshot the Bandits 62-55 and also picked up 61 loose balls to Buffalo’s 35.

Matt Vince stopped 54 of 62 shots for the win, while Nick Rose in defeat stopped 45 of 55 .

Toronto was without stars Tom Schreiber who was placed on the Injured Reserve earlier in the day with an upper body injury. The Rock were also missing defender Latrell Harris and forward Adam Jones who are both on the Injured Reserve, though Jones is expected to return shortly.

The Rock are off this week and return to action January 31st as they host the Halifax Thunderbirds at 7:30.

Buffalo returns to action Saturday as the travel to visit Colorado, who is currently 4-3. Colorado is coming off a huge road victory over Saskatchewan 12-6 and are looking to build on the win.