Chase Fraser scored a team-high four goals to lead the Buffalo Bandits to a 16-14 victory over the Toronto Rock at FirstOntario Centre on Saturday.
The Rock – previously undefeated at 5-0 – led 10-9 after three quarters. The Bandits responded with seven straight goals to open the fourth, including two from Fraser. Toronto scored four goals in the final two minutes but fell short of a comeback.
The Bandits were led in scoring by Josh Byrne (1+6) and Dhane Smith (2+4). Chris Cloutier surpassed the 200-point mark for his career with six assists.
Six other Bandits had multipoint nights including Tehoka Nanticoke (2+2), Steve Priolo (2+1), Nick Weiss (0+3), Ian MacKay (2+0), Brandon Robinson (2+0), and Kyle Buchanan (1+1). Matt Vinc made 38 saves, including 15 during a first-quarter shutout.
Chris Boushy (4+1) and Tom Schreiber (2+3) led the Rock in points. Nick Rose made 39 saves.
MacKay scored on a breakaway for the only goal of the first quarter, which ended with the Bandits leading 1-0 and proved to be an outlier compared to the quarters that followed.
The Bandits’ offense was able to find a rhythm early in the second quarter on special teams. Cloutier delivered a behind-the-back pass to Byrne, who passed through three defenders to set up a power-play goal for Fraser. Byrne added his own power-play goal to increase the lead to 3-0 just 4:07 into the quarter.
Dan Craig then put Toronto on the board, only for Justin Martin to answer for the Bandits 29 seconds later. That pattern of Rock goals followed by Bandits responses lasted for much of the quarter, which ended with Buffalo holding an 8-4 lead.
Toronto opened the third quarter with a vengeance, scoring six goals from five different players to carry 10-9 lead into the fourth. Buffalo was able to swing momentum thanks to a pair of penalties with 30 seconds left in the quarter, a minor for holding against Billy Hostrawser and a cross-checking major against Phil Mazzuca.
The Bandits were held off the board for their two minutes at 5-on-3 but evened the score with 17 seconds remaining on the penalty to Mazzuca when Buchanan scored into an open net following quick passes from Smith and Cloutier, which ignited a seven-goal run.
Buffalo improved to 4-3 with the win, with a visit to Banditland from the Rochester Knighthawks due up Saturday.
Here’s more from the victory over Toronto.
Coast to Coast
The Bandits captain reminded traveling Banditland why he’s called Steve “Coast to Coast” Priolo. He got stuck in the offensive set twice and scored twice for the first time this season. Both goals came in close to the net and were not in transition. Instead, the veteran showed his lacrosse IQ for two creative goals on the crease.
In the closing minutes of the fourth quarter, Priolo could have finished a hat trick with a half floor empty-net shot. He opted for a pass to MacKay for an easier goal. Priolo ended with three points, the most he’s had since Feb. 2023.
Fraser on fire
Fraser has put up highlight reel after highlight reel this season. His most eye-popping goal of the season may have come in the fourth quarter Saturday, a swim dodge and behind-the-back score that might have SportsCenter calling. Fraser showed his diversity in the same quarter, picking a top corner from range for Buffalo’s 14th goal.
— Buffalo Bandits (@NLLBandits) January 28, 2024
Fraser previously earned NLL Play of the Week honors for his game-tying goal against New York last week.
The Bandits host the Rochester Knighthawks Saturday, Feb. 3 at 7:30 p.m. It will be Youth Lacrosse Night in Banditland.
The game can be seen on CW23 and ESPN+