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Toronto in search of first win over Buffalo in 2012

03/29/2012, 11:37am EDT
By Justin Millerson, Toronto Rock beat writer for NLL.com

Rock to meet Bandits for third and final time in regular season on Saturday night


The Toronto Rock seek their first win in three games this season against the Buffalo Bandits on Saturday night. (Photo Credit: Graig Abel)

Watch the matchup between the Rock and Bandits live in Canada on TSN and TSN Mobile starting at 7:30 p.m. ET. It will be shown on tape delay on RDS2 starting at 10:30 p.m. ET.

Outside Canada, the game can be seen online live on ESPN3.

The game will also be broadcast on the radio from the First Niagara Center on WWKB AM 1520.

 

Nick Rose helped the Toronto Rock snap a three-game losing streak in his debut last week. The team will likely be looking to him again to avoid a season series-sweep by their most bitter rival.

Toronto will meet the Buffalo Bandits for the last time in the regular season on Saturday night at the First Niagara Center.

Only three deals were completed prior to the NLL’s trading deadline earlier this month. One of those trades brought Rose to the Rock (5-6) from Calgary and he paid immediate dividends last Saturday.

Rose won the first NLL start of his career, stopping 28 of 35 shots in a 13-7 victory over Rochester. Though Toronto was victorious for the first time since Feb. 24, general manager and assistant coach Terry Sanderson said it was a team effort that lifted the Rock (5-6) into a tie with the Knighthawks for third in the East Division.

“I’m not sure why [Rose] is the story of the game, I know he played well. I think we played our most complete game of the year holding Rochester to just 35 shots,” Sanderson said. “But I definitely don’t want to take anything from [Rose] either. He stops the ones he was supposed to and was real solid in there.”

Toronto enters this contest trailing first-place Philadelphia by 1½ games with five to play.  The Rock are also a game ahead of last-place Buffalo (4-7), which has scored 35 goals in its two wins over their eastern Canadian rivals.

The Bandits set a season-high for goals in their 21-14 victory on March 16 at the Air Canada Centre. Five Buffalo players had at least six points with John Tavares, Luke Wiles and Mark Steenhuis combining for 13 goals.

“Buffalo came in absolutely destroyed us in how home building two weeks ago and does not leave a good taste in our mouths obviously. We have to find out how our guys are going to react to that,” said Sanderson.

The Rock also fell 14-10 to Buffalo on Jan. 14, getting off to an 0-2 start after winning their sixth NLL title last year.

“Our first game in Buffalo, I thought we deserved to win that game as much as Buffalo did. We thought we prepared the same way when Buffalo came to Toronto, but they handed it to us,” said Sanderson.

“Our plans are not going to change, there are certain things we like to do against Buffalo and think we will continue to do them and hopefully this time we come up with more success.”

Part of that success on the offensive end should come from leading scorer Garrett Billings and captain Colin Doyle.

Billings, who has totalled 71 points (19 goals, 52 assists) this year, has scored four goals with 10 helpers in two games versus Buffalo.

Injuries have limited Doyle’s production to just 29 points (15 goals, 14 assists) in eight games this year. However, he’s been red-hot recently, with 10 goals and nine assists in three games after missing one with an upper-body injury.

 

 

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