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Bandits rout Rock in NLL semifinal opener

Tom Schreiber Toronto Rock Tom Schreiber - Toronto Rock

Hamilton, ON – The Buffalo Bandits defeated the Toronto Rock 12-4 on Friday night at FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton, ON to take game one of the best-of-three NLL Semifinals series.

“It's a disappointing outcome for sure and every decision we made here was incorrect tonight,” said Rock Head Coach Matt Sawyer.  “We need to be better. We don't have any choice.”

Buffalo’s Matt Vinc kept the Rock off the scoreboard until the third quarter.  Toronto scored their first goal of the game 39:04 into the contest.

“Offensively, they didn't do their job up there,” added Sawyer.  “So, they're going to go periods of time without putting the ball in the net, but you need to protect the ball and value the ball and make sure it doesn't go the other way.  It was very uncharacteristic of us and the way we’ve played to this point in the season, but that was us tonight and it’s disappointing.”

A key turning point in the game came just over four minutes in the second quarter.  With the Bandits holding a 3-0 lead after one, the Rock appeared to get on the board in the second quarter on a Tom Schreiber shot that sailed by Vinc in the Buffalo net.  The Rock began to celebrate, the official called no-goal as Chris Boushy was in the crease when the ball crossed the goal line, and the Bandits capitalized immediately passing the ball up into the Buffalo offensive zone and Chris Cloutier came streaking off the bench to score on a breakaway.  What could have been a 3-1 game, became a 4-0 game in the blink of an eye.

Buffalo’s Kyle Buchanan made the best of a broken play to give the Bandits a 5-0 lead at halftime.

Dhane Smith scored the first goal of the third quarter to put Buffalo up 6-0 and four minutes later, Justin Martin finally got the Rock on the floor.  And, with how well Nick Rose had played and with over 20 minutes of game time remaining, there was still a lot of energy in the Rock City faithful as they have seen their team stage many a comeback this season.

However, it was not to be on this night.  Buffalo scored two more times before the end of the third quarter to lead 8-1 heading into the final frame.

Tom Schreiber did score the first goal of the fourth quarter, but once again the Bandits answered with three goals in 1:13 to go ahead 11-2.  Corey Small scored a pair of goals, one on the power play, but it was too little too late as the Bandits added one more to make the final 12-4.

Toronto outshot Toronto 57-50.  Rose only allowed 8 goals before being pulled in order to have the faster Troy Holowchuk made the run to the bench for the extra attacker.  Holowchuk allowed 3 goals and the Bandits tossed in an empty netter.  Vinc made 53 saves.

The Rock were 1-for-8 on the power play, while the Bandits were 2-for-3 on the man up.

The series will continue Sunday night in Buffalo.