Rock End Three Win Game Streak on the Road in Buffalo 1/18/2020

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Shawn Palmer, Correspondent Toronto Rock
Lacrosse is Awesome©

Featured Image Photo Credit: Sara Schmidle

The Toronto Rock (3-2) drove down the QEW highway to visit the Buffalo Bandits (3-1) at the KeyBank Center in front of 12, 026 Bandits fans.  Unfortunately, they had to do it without two of their top offensive players as Tom Schreiber and Adam Jones were both out with upper body injuries.  They started fast and kept it close throughout but came up short as losing 10–8.

Rob Hellyer (5G, 1A) opened the scoring beating his defender to the inside and then beat Matt Vinc (56 saves, 1A) to the short side giving the Rock a 1–0 lead only 41 seconds in.  Less than two minutes into the game a fight ensued behind the net between two rookies Brent Noseworthy of Buffalo; and Mitch Gustavsen (12-19 FO, 5LB) for Toronto.   Noseworthy was the winner but was kicked out of the game for being the instigator.  It was a tough introduction to the NLL for Gustavsen as this was his first NLL game.  When the dust settled; the Rock would go up 2-0 when Challen Rogers (2G) received a pass from Johnny Powless (2A) went underneath the defender and dove across the crease to beat Vinc to the far side.  Buffalo got one back while shorthanded when Dhane Smith (3A) fed Chase Fraser (3G,1A) cutting in front; he dove across the crease and backhanded a shot past Nick Rose(46 saves, 1A) to cut the lead in half.  Hellyer got that one back with a shot from just inside the restraining line to beat Vinc over the shoulder with a laser to the top corner.  Shots on goal favored Toronto 17-10. At the end of the first quarter Toronto held the lead 3-1.

The second got off to a quick start for Buffalo and with a five-goal run.  Josh Byrne (3G) scored on the power play 26 seconds in off the pass received from behind the net; he dove forward beating Rose to the near post with the Rock still in the lead 3-2.  On transition Corey Small (1G, 2A) received a long outlet pass; went in all alone on Rose; made a high fake and then went low stick side to tie the game at three apiece.  Fraser scored next for the Bandits with a beautiful behind the back screened by the defender which Rose couldn’t see and didn’t move while the ball went into the open side to give Buffalo their first lead at 4–3 half way through the second quarter.  Steve Priolo (1G, 1A) added to the Bandits lead off the breakaway pass in transition beating Rose over the shoulder into the top corner; and Byrne scored another with a diving shot under the arm to give Buffalo their fifth goal in a row making it 6–3 Buffalo.  Hellyer would stop the Bandits run with his hat trick goal and a shot from the top through a screen to beat Vinc over the far shoulder to cut the Buffalo lead to 6–4 with three minutes left in the first half; and would score his fourth and second in a row coming off of the bench receiving a pass from David Brock (1A) and jumping over the crease to beat Vinc between the legs to get Toronto to within one at 6–5.  Fraser on a pick and roll with Dhane Smith got the pass and beat Rose through the legs with a similar goal to what Hellyer had just done to Vinc reinstating the Bandit two goal lead at 7–5.   Shots on goal were all tied up at 31 apiece at the end of the first half.   Score at the end of the first half:  Toronto 7—Bandits 5.

Photo by Sara Schmidle

Fans would see a low scoring third with only two goals in total. Halfway through the third quarter Byrne received a five-minute major penalty for spearing Gustavsen in the head putting the Rock on the power play.  Even though the Rock had good ball movement during the man advantage they weren’t able to score.  After Byrne came out of the box he went on a breakaway and was checked from behind giving him a penalty shot.  He came in; threw a bunch of fakes; and beat Rose low to the glove side for his hat trick goal to make it 8–5 for the Bandits only goal with less than four minutes left in the third quarter.  Dan Dawson (1G, 1A) made a nice one handed catch in front of the net to beat Vinc over the shoulder for Toronto’s only goal to make it 8–6 for Buffalo.  Shots on goal favored Buffalo 42-38.  Score at the end of three:  Bandits 8—Rock 6.

Challen Rogers opened the scoring in the fourth quarter 43 seconds in for the Rock as Alec Tulett (2A) fed Rogers cutting through the middle and he shot across his body to beat Vinc to the far side to bring the Rock within one at 8–7.   It took a bit for Toronto to notch another, when Hellyer with his fifth goal of the game would take a pass at the top of the offensive zone and with a laser sidearm shot beat Vinc to the top corner to tie the game at eight at 7:32.  Chris Cloutier (1G) would restore the one goal lead for Buffalo off the pass from Bandits newcomer Garrett Billings (1A); took a low shot to the bottom corner underneath Rose’s glove to give Buffalo the lead with just under five minutes in the fourth.  With a minute left in the fourth Toronto pulled Nick Rose for an extra attacker but their shot went wide and Matt Gilray (1G, 1A) picked up the rebound; went down and scored into the empty net.  Final Score:  Bandits 10—Rock 6.

“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 following the game.  “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.”

The Three Stars are:

  • Rob Hellyer (5G, 1A)
  • Chase Fraser (3G, 1A)
  • Matt Vinc (58 saves, 1A)


The Toronto Rock (3-2) have a bye-week and will be back in action at home to host the Halifax Thunderbirds (5-0) on Friday January 31, game time 7:30 p.m. EST.

The Buffalo Bandits (3-1) head out on the road to face the Colorado Mammoth (4-3) on Saturday January 25, game time 7:30 p.m. EST.

Shawn Palmer, Correspondent Toronto Rock
Lacrosse is Awesome©

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