This week the Toronto Rock renew their rivalry with the Buffalo Bandits. Recently these two teams have been heading in opposite directions as the Rock finished 2013 on top of the East Division while the Buffalo Bandits finished last in the East. The Rock began 2014 on the right foot as they picked up a 16-11 win over the Calgary Roughnecks while the Bandits lost their first game of 2014 17-13 to the Philadelphia Wings.
Toronto will look to continue to dominate their rivalry with the Bandits and pick up their second win of the season. In the Rock’s first game against Calgary, the Rock were able to take control thanks to their work ethic as the Rock won the loose ball battle 88-77 and had 76 shots on net. Garrett Billings had a great start to the season picking up ten points with one goal and nine assists. The Rock also got help from Stephan Leblanc who had five goals and two assists. The Rock will look to spread the ball around against Buffalo and force the Bandits to match their up tempo pace. If the Rock are able to speed the game up the Bandits will have a hard time stopping the Rock’s offense as they have multiple forwards who, given a small amount of time, can make a team pay.
The Bandits in their first game were outplayed as they allowed 68 shots. The Bandits kept it close in the first period but allowed the Wings to go on a five goal streak in the second period which allowed the Wings to move ahead and they would not look back on their way to a 17-13 victory. The Bandits focused on work ethic in practice this week after getting outplayed by Philadelphia. The Bandits will need to slow the game down and not allow the Rock to outwork them for loose balls. If the Bandits can avoid letting the Rock gain room and open up the transition game they will have a chance to win. The Bandits will look for Mark Steenhuis and Ryan Benesch to carry the offense while in between the pipes Anthony Cosmo needs to pick up his game as he allowed 13 goals on 51 shots. Cosmo needs to get comfortable in between the pipes and will need to stand tall and avoid letting the Rock beat him early.
In the end the Toronto Rock will win this game as they are better in every aspect of the game from goaltending to offense. The Rock will stretch the Buffalo defense and create mismatches allowing their offense to pick apart Anthony Cosmo in net.