Oakville, ON – The Toronto Rock defeated the Buffalo Bandits 15-13 on Saturday night at the Toronto Rock Athletic Centre in Oakville, ON to finish the pre-season with a 3-0 record. Scoring by committee will likely be a theme this year with the Rock and it was on full display in the Rock victory over their longtime rivals.
“We think we’re trending in the right direction,” said Rock head coach Matt Sawyer. Tonight’s result was good but there were a lot of things from a coaching standpoint that we weren’t necessarily happy with. We have three practices to work on those things before we open up in Rochester.”
Any time the Bandits and Rock get together, you can count on a feisty affair and Saturday’s exhibition contest was no different. Four different goal scorers paced the Rock to a 4-0 lead in the first quarter. Buffalo scored a pair to make it 4-2 and the teams traded goals to make it 5-3 Rock after one.
The rough stuff escalated in the second quarter after the Rock built a 7-3 lead. Buffalo’s Steve Priolo got involved with Rock rookie Jordan Magnuson however Billy Hostrawser was quickly tagged in and Priolo and Hostrawser engaged in a spirited scrap. Both players were ejected from the game. The Rock continued to fill the Bandits’ goal, surging to a 9-3 lead. The Bandits scored three goals in a row to close the gap to 9-6 but Tom Schreiber’s second goal of the game gave the Rock a 10-6 lead at the halftime break.
The Bandits staged a bit of a rally in the third quarter as the Rock’s lead shrunk to three goals through three quarters of play. Special teams continued to play a big part in the game, as the penalty box door was swinging open for both teams. Toronto carried a 13-10 lead into the fourth quarter.
Steve Fryer replaced Nick Rose in the Toronto goal for the fourth quarter and posted a solid 15 minutes to seal the Rock win. With Toronto up 15-10 and the result no longer in doubt, Buffalo scored three more times including a pair in the final minute to wrap up the scoring.
The two teams combined for 14 special teams goals in the game with the Rock scoring five goals on the power play and one shorthanded while Buffalo scored seven of their goals with the man advantage and tallied one on the man down.
Stephan Leblanc’s 8-point (2+6) game led the way offensively for Toronto. Brett Hickey scored four goals but had a little help from his friends as Mikey MacDonald, Tom Schreiber and Kieran McArdle each scored a pair. Single goals came from Kasey Beirnes, Turner Evans and Damon Edwards.
The Rock will resume training camp on Tuesday night in Oakville and will make their final personnel moves over the next few days to get down to their final squad of 20 active roster players and a maximum of four practice roster players. All NLL teams must trim down by this Monday.