The Buffalo Bandits (1-1) did not feel that they started off their year on the right foot after dropping their season opener two weeks ago. They had a chance to get into the win column on Friday night when they squared off with the Toronto Rock (1-1) and did just that by using a second-half surge for a 12-10 comeback victory in front of 11,404 fans at First Niagara Center.
Bandits head coach Troy Cordingley talked about his first win behind the bench with the team.
“We needed a win. We needed to build our confidence. We needed to work and that’s what we did tonight.” Cordingley added that there was no special significance to beating the team that he formerly coached.
The Bandits, coming off a 17-13 loss against the Philadelphia Wings, were trying to avoid falling to 0-2 on the season and sitting at the bottom of the East Division. The Rock came into Buffalo with a 16-11 win in their pocket after last week’s opener against the Calgary Roughnecks.
The game’s first goal came at the 5:21 mark for Stephan LeBlanc on the power play after some fast paced end-to-end action. The Rock built on their lead with another power play goal from Kasey Beirnes and a quick transition goal from Damon Edwards. Toronto closed out the first quarter with a 4-0 lead and a 15-10 edge in shots.
The Bandits finally broke the ice with their first goal over 22 minutes into the game. Ryan Benesch scored on a breakaway in transition to get Buffalo on the board on their twenty-first shot of the game. Benesch contributed 5 points (3 G, 2A.) He talked about the win, “That was a big win for the team. The key was not to get down on ourselves and to stick to the gameplan.”
The Rock took a 6-2 lead into the half with a 31-26 edge in shots. Toronto goaltender Nick Rose was stout in net turning away several in tight chances from Benesch, Chad Culp and Kevin Brownell and pitching a first quarter shutout. Although the Bandits’ defense looked shaky at first, they tightened up as the first half went on, forcing turnovers and keeping shots to the outside.
Ryan Benesch led the Bandits with 7 first half shots and both of their goals. Colin Doyle led the Rock’s offense with 4 points (2+2.)
The first goal of the second half came at the 11:02 mark and was scored on a rebound by Bandit defenseman Steve Priolo. Benesch scored while spinning to the ground and Chad Culp scored in transition to bring the Bandits within one goal at 6-5. Mark Steenhuis scored to make it a tie game on a delayed penalty to cap off 4 unanswered goals to end the third quarter. Anthony Cosmo held the Rock scoreless for the quarter.
For Cosmo, the win was huge and his .806 save percentage was welcomed. He was sporting the “212 hard hat” given to the player of the game. The number 212 signifies the temperature in which water boils and generates steam energy. “I’ve been working on my confidence. I credit my defense for keeping the ball outside and making the saves easy,” he said.
While Craig England was still serving his major penalty for high sticking, Aaron Wilson kicked off the fourth quarter scoring with a power play goal to give the Bandits their first lead of the season at 7-6.
After trading goals in the fourth, the Bandits went on the power play with just over 5 minutes to go and John Tavares converted to give Buffalo an 11-9 lead, which would prove to be the game winner.
The Bandits pulled out there first win at home in almost a year and ended a drought that saw them lose seven straight at home before tonight.
Shots finished 62-55 in favor of the Rock.
Three Stars of the Game as selected by the media:
1) Ryan Benesch
2) Steve Priolo
3) Colin Doyle