Shawn Palmer, Correspondent Toronto Rock
Lacrosse is Awesome©
Featured Image Photo Credit: Toronto Rock
On Sunday February 9, the Buffalo Bandits (6-2) visited the Toronto Rock (5-2) at the Scotiabank Arena on Sunday afternoon after defeating the Vancouver Warriors on Friday night in Vancouver. The Rock were looking to take down their second North Division foe in as many weeks and climb back into the conversation as the Number One team in the division. In front of a small Sunday afternoon crowd of 7,021 fans, the Rock didn’t disappoint as their stifling defense shut down the Bandits for over 29 minutes and came away with an impressive 13 – 9 win.
The Rock came out firing and started the scoring just over two minutes into the game when Dan Dawson (3G, 4A) cut past his defender on the inside and beat Matt Vinc (34 saves, 1A) through the legs to give the Rock an early lead. On transition Sheldon Burns (1A) made a pass to Josh Jubenville (1G) on the break and his bounce shot beat Vinc between the legs to give the Rock a 2 – 0 lead. Nine minutes into the first quarter the Rock added another goal when Rob Hellyer (3G, 2A) backed in on his defender, turned and shot a high overhand laser that beat Vinc over the shoulder to increase the lead to 3–0. After turning away all of the Bandits shots for the first 13 minutes, Nick Rose (44 saves, 2A) had one get by him when Vinc made a long outlet pass to Ian MacKay (1G, 1A) and he beat Rose to the glove side on the breakaway cutting the lead for the Rock 3 – 1. Twenty seconds later Buffalo scored again when Josh Byrne (2G, 1A) beat his defender low; jumped over the crease; and put a low bounce shot past Rose to make it 3 – 2 at the end of the first. Shots favored Toronto 13-10.
Game Highlights: https://www.nll.com/news/bandits-vs-rock-i-full-highlights/
Buffalo continued their run at the start of the second quarter when Dhane Smith (3G) with a spin move to beat Challen Rogers (1G, 2A) cut to the net and beat Rose with a bounce shot between the legs tying the game at three apiece. This was the start of a scoring spree in the quarter. Dawson would restore the Rock lead when he beat his defender from the corner, cut across the crease and his shot went in on the far side making it 4 – 3. But Buffalo would tie it back up at four on transition when Matt Gilray (2G, 3A) picked up a loose ball and ran the floor beating Rose over the glove. Toronto got that one back 17 seconds later when Dawson made a great behind the back pass to a cutting Reid Reinholdt (1G, 3A) whose shot beat Vinc to the far side just inside the post. The assist was Dawson’s 900th of his NLL career to make it 5 – 4 for the Rock. The goals kept coming fast and furious as Buffalo tied it up again 14 seconds later when Smith ran right down the middle past two defenders and beat Rose over the shoulder. The Bandits went ahead for the first time in the game when Chris Cloutier (1G, 2A) dove across the crease hit both posts and the ball just crossed the line and bounced right back out. Most in the stands needed to see the replays before they were convinced that it actually went in but the referee was correct with his call on the floor. Twenty seconds later the Rock tied it back up as Hellyer received a pass from Dawson and cut down the middle of the floor and fired a shot off of the post and in to make it six all. Toronto scored again when Zach Manns (1G) fired a rocket of a shot from the outside beating Vinc to the top corner giving the Rock a 7 – 6 lead. Toronto would add to their lead 15 seconds later with a high to low shot by Rogers from the outside stick side on a delayed penalty call making it 8 – 6. As they did in the first quarter the Bandits came back at the end of the quarter when Smith beat Rose with an overhand bounce shot through the legs right at the end of the shot clock for his hat trick cutting the Rock lead to one. To end the quarter Byrne beat Rose to the short side just as their power play ended and going into the second half the score was tied: Toronto 8—Buffalo 8. Shots on goal favored Toronto slightly 27-26.
The third quarter was a back and forth affair as both defenses stood up to the challenge of the offense and five minutes in, the Rock took a one goal lead when David Brock (2G) in transition on a pass from Rose, unloaded with a side arm shot to beat Vinc to the short side for the go ahead goal 9 – 8 for the Rock. After all of the goals in the second quarter both goalies reminded everyone that’s why they’re both near the top of the league with Vinc stopping seven shots; and Rose stopping all 17 he faced in the quarter. After the third frame Toronto held the lead 9-8. The shots on goal had turned in favor of Buffalo 44-36.
Toronto added to their lead to start the fourth making it 10 – 8 when Scott Dominey (1G) received a breakaway pass from Billy Hostrawser (2A) to beat Vinc with a twister shot through the legs. Over six minutes into the final frame, Dawson threaded the needle with a pass to Hellyer whose shot to the far side beat Vinc for his hat trick goal and 200th goal of his NLL career and a three goal lead for the Rock 11-8. Toronto scored their fourth unanswered goal, this time Hellyer returning the favor passing it to a cutting Dawson who deposited it over Vinc’s shoulder for his hat trick goal. After over 29 minutes, the Bandits were finally able to beat Rose again with just over two minutes left in the game on transition when Gilray would score his second of the game with a hard shot that beat Rose stick side. This would be as close as the Bandits would get. They’d pulled their goalie for the extra attacker and Brock intercepted the pass on defense and went the length of the floor scoring into the empty net for the second week in a row closing out the scoring giving the Rock a 13 – 9 win.
After the game Nick Rose said “A great second half for us, defensively that was probably our best half of the season and the offence was great all night. It was a great team win”
Post Game Interview Nick Rose: https://3ygl9y1zox8n2fct074gkrs1-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/17/2020/02/Nick-Rose-Post-Game-Feb-9.mp4
“We were pretty good in the first, but I thought overall the game was sloppy. Had we been a little bit sharper, maybe we could have had a bit more separation than 8-8 (at the half), but it’s a good win for us for sure,” said Rock Head Coach Matt Sawyer.
The Rock also won the loose ball contest by a tally of 77 – 68 and at the faceoff dot winning 16 of 26 draws. Buffalo who had the best power-play percentage coming into the game and went 0 for 3 this afternoon; and the Rock didn’t have any power plays during the game.
The leaders for each team were:
Dan Dawson – 3G, 4A
Rob Hellyer – 3G, 2A
Nick Rose – 44 saves, 2A
Dhane Smith – 3G
Matt Gilray – 2G, 3A
Josh Byrne – 2G, 1A
Buffalo: 53 SOG; 25 SOFF; 68 LB; 10-26 FO; 0-3 PP; 2 PIM
Toronto: 47 SOG; 17 SOFF; 77 LB; 16-26 FO; 0-0 PP; 8 PIM
Buffalo Matt Vinc: 46 SOG; 34 Saves; 12 GA; .739 Sv%
Toronto Nick Rose: 53 SOG; 44 Saves; 9 GA; .830 Sv%
The Toronto Rock (5-2) are back in action on Saturday February 15, and will host the Vancouver Warriors (4-5), game time 7:00 p.m. EST.
The Buffalo Bandits (6-2) will host the Philadelphia Wings (5-3) on Saturday February 15, game time 7:00 p.m. EST.
Shawn Palmer, Correspondent Toronto Rock
Lacrosse is Awesome©