Bandits Defeat Rock in Overtime

One thing I’ve learned in the National Lacrosse League is that on a game to game basis, nothing is for sure. But another thing I’ve learned is that Professionals in any sport have a lot of pride.

Less than a week ago, the Buffalo Bandits put an old fashioned beat down on their cross border rivals the Toronto Rock in Banditland. On Friday night the Rock had the opportunity to welcome the defending Champions into their home at The Air Canada Centre. And welcome them they did. The Rock looked like a whole new team but it still was not enough as the Bandits took one in Overtime; the final was 17-16.

Toronto came out on Friday night, with a very similar enthusiasm seen in recent weeks. And unlike six days ago, they survived the first five minutes of the game. This time they built up their own lead 3-0 before the five minute mark. Goals by Lewis Ratcliff, Blaine Manning and Chad Thompson would get the home crowd involved and boisterous early in the game. Buffalo would get goals from Mark Steenhuis and Sean Greenhalgh to close the gap, but Stephen Hoar and Blaine Manning would extend the lead again. The score after the first quarter was 6-4 in favour of Toronto.

The second quarter would see the Rock dominate just like Buffalo did in their building. The Rock outscored Buffalo 5-1 in the quarter and chased starter Mike Thompson from the net six minutes into the second frame. It also saw the only scrap of the game when Scott Campbell and Pat McCready decided to exchange best wishes. The halftime score was 11-5 Toronto.

Darris Kilgour certainly must have had some “inspiring” words for his troops at halftime as they came out in the third quarter and played like many had expected them to from the start. Buffalo outscored Toronto 7-3 to close to within a couple of goals after three quarters. John Tavares had four goals in the third, with Steenhuis netting two and Cory Bomberry hitting a single. Luke Wiles scored all three Toronto goals. The score after three quarters; 14-12 Toronto.

Just over one minute into the fourth quarter, Tavares closed the game to one goal when he found himself all alone in front of Bob Watson. Mark Steenhuis spotted him, dished the ball to him and Tavares was automatic. Only 14 seconds later Josh Wasson fired a shot that had eyes and trickled over the goal line to open it up to two again. But the Rock killer a week ago, Steenhuis would take the ball through the middle of the floor and throw a shot past Watson while leaping into the air through the crease and back came the Bandits.

That would be it until Steenhuis would again score on a 2 on 1, burying a shot to Watson’s bottom left corner. There were some very tense and exciting moments in the last four minutes. Buffalo pulled goalie Ken Montour with only 50 seconds remaining and Steenhuis did it yet again tying the game at 16-16, hitting a shot to the top right corner of the net. Lewis Ratcliff fired a quick stick shot off the cross bar with only 19 seconds on the clock. The Rock would attempt one last shot with Watson on the bench, to no avail, we were heading to Overtime.

In Overtime, it took Steenhuis 46 seconds to bury a bounce shot to the low right side. Tom Montour ran a pretty good bit of interference on two Toronto defenders not allowing them to get out on Steenhuis. And it paid off for Buffalo. Make the final 17-16, Buffalo.

For the first time in a while I have t osay that this was a very entertaining game. For Rock fans it had ot hurt, for Bandits fans it had to be sweet, but for those that simply enjoy the game, this was a very good one. The intensity in the last few minutes was great and the fans at the Air Canda Centre were into the game the entire night.

Other Game Notes:
– Blaine Manning played well scoring twice and adding four assists, while Chad Thompson scored a hat trick
– Toronto put a lot of pressure on the Bandits all night in Buffalo’s end and it seemed to work. A refreshing change form the bury your head and run to the bench that we see so often in the NLL.
– to Bufflao’s credit they made a monsterous comeback; that is the thing that Championship teams are made of.
– Toronto was 3-4 on the PP, Buffalo was 3-5
– Steenhuis was kept relatively quiet in the first half, but ended the night with 8 goals and 2 assists.
– the Bandits continue to show that faceoffs are not a real concern to them. They again were on the short end of the draws winning only 14-37.
– Toronto outshot Buffalo 59-54


1 Comment

  1. I do agree that it was an entertaining game and that was needed for a lot of long time season ticket holders. There was an palatable energy at the Air Canada Centre that hasn’t been witnessed for a couple of years. I do agree that it was nice to see some pressure put on Buffalo in their end but still not near enough. Too many times loose balls were uncontested. It would be interesting to see the stats on loose ball wins; my guess is Buffalo completely dominated that category. You can’t win loose balls if your headed in the opposite direction.

    Hopefully this is a long overdue turnaround!

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