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Bandits and Rock meet for first time in 2020

The Buffalo Bandits welcome North Division rival Toronto Rock to the Key Bank Center for the first time in the 2020 NLL season. Buffalo comes into the game at a record of 2-1 after picking up their first road win of the season in Georgia 16-10. It was a much-needed rebound win for the Bandits after they were dominated by Halifax 15-10 the week before. The Rock are sitting at a near perfect 3-1, with their only loss coming back in week one to New England, so they’ll look to extend their current win streak to four.

In their last battle against the Swarm, the orange and black really needed to win big if they wanted to avenge the beat-down they received from the visiting Thunderbirds the week prior. They did not disappoint, gaining a 11-3 lead when halftime came around. It of course helped that they had key pieces return from injury, captain Steve Priolo returned to the back end after sitting out the previous game, and Chase Fraser saw his first action of the season.

Fraser is a young player who brings an intense and high-paced style to the offense. He made sure to prove that he hasn’t missed a beat too, putting in a six point (3g,3a) performance in the win. Buffalo’s offense is built on having depth, and those other forwards like Chris Cloutier, Dhane Smith, and Josh Byrne continue to contribute on the scoresheet. As long as those pieces are working together and firing on all cylinders, Buffalo is going to have more performances like they had against the Swarm, and less like the one they had against Halifax.

On the Toronto side of things, Rob Helleyer is separating himself from the pack with an impressive 19 points (10g,9a) on the season so far. Helleyer leads the team not just in points, but in goals as well. Helleyer is also in good company on the offensive side with the likes of Tom Schreiber, Dan Craig, and Dan Dawson. Dawson, who has 17 points (7g,10a), is in his first season in Toronto after spending his 2019 campaign with the expansion San Diego Seals. The 38-year-old is no stranger to battling it out with the Bandits, during his five seasons with Rochester the man known as “Dangerous Dan” has put countless goals past Buffalo netminders and has no doubt been a deciding factor in victories over the Bandits. Finally, back in the same division as Buffalo, he’ll look to continue that work.

In between the pipes in this contest are two veteran netminders in Nick Rose for Toronto, and Matt Vinc for Buffalo. Rose has had an impressive start to 2020, posting a 10.07 GAA and a .799 save percentage. Buffalo had a big hiccup in their Thunderbirds matchup, so Vinc’s numbers don’t quite lineup as he sits at a 12.65 GAA and a more comparable .781 save percentage. But stats are just that, and Vinc has no doubt proven himself as one of the most successful goaltenders of the last decade. Both teams have goalies they can rely on, so this will be an interesting battle in the crease.

Face-off for the game is set for 7:00 p.m. ET from the Key Bank Center in Buffalo. The game can be watched with a subscription on the B/R Live app which is available on the web or through iTunes, Google Play, Roku, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire.