It doesn’t matter when you score your goals, it’s how many you score and whether it’s more than the opposition that counts.
The latter two were exactly what the Buffalo Bandits needed in their 10-8 victory over the Toronto Rock at KeyBank Center before a crowd of 12,026 on Saturday evening.
Buffalo scored six of their 10 goals in the second quarter, then scored four goals in the remaining 45 minutes of play (one each in the first and third quarters and two in the fourth).
“It was a great lacrosse game to coach and I’m sure to play and definitely was entertaining for the fans out there,” head coach John Tavares said. “I thought our offense was a lot better in the first half than the second half. We just need to play a full 60 minutes offensively. We can’t have lapses like we did there.”
Chase Fraser and Josh Byrne led the Bandits with three goals each, matching season-highs for both. Fraser also added an assist, giving him a team-high four points.
Since returning from injury, Fraser has recorded 10 points (6+4) in his first two games of action this season.
With time to rehab and only missing the Bandits’ first two contests, Fraser saw a place in the roster for him to create a bigger role.
“Honestly, coming off an injury like I did, it’s a pretty serious thing. It’s like a mental thing to get over the injury,” Fraser said. “This year, I knew personally, I wanted to fill a bigger role, do more for myself, and to help this team out. I’m just coming in and doing as much as I possibly can to help our team.”
“He was throwing up this morning. Think about that for a second,” Byrne added about Fraser. “He was sick and put a performance on like that. He’s the heart and soul of our team and we rally around him.”
Matt Vinc made 58 saves for the Bandits in the win.
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Toronto opened the scoring early, netting the first two goals of the game. Rob Hellyer, who had a team-high five goals for the Rock, scored the first before Challen Rogers followed him to give the Rock an early 2-0 lead just over five minutes into the contest.
Fraser would net his first goal of the game – a shorthanded tally – off a feed from Dhane Smith, who had three helpers on the night.
After another Hellyer goal late in the first period, Buffalo would go on to score six goals in the second quarter, including five unanswered in a span of 10-plus minutes.
The Bandits’ third goal in the unanswered span, from Fraser, was a behind-the-back shot that fooled Toronto goaltender Nick Rose and even Fraser himself.
— Buffalo Bandits (@NLLBandits) January 19, 2020
Buffalo would hold the Rock scoreless for nearly a full quarter, 13:52, before Hellyer recorded his third goal of the night at the 11:46 mark of the second quarter.
In the opening quarter of the second half, the teams combined to net two goals.
Buffalo’s special teams did a remarkable job of not allowing Toronto to score during a seven-minute stretch of Bandit penalties in the third quarter. The Rock mustered six shots during the two power plays, but Vinc stopped each shot.
Overall, Toronto was held scoreless on three power play opportunities which included nine power play shots.
Buffalo’s lone third-quarter goal came on a penalty shot by Josh Byrne with under five minutes left, immediately after serving a five-minute major penalty for high sticking.
Dan Dawson was the lone scorer for the Rock in the third quarter, which was the first of three unanswered Toronto goals over the final two minutes of the third quarter and the first seven minutes of the fourth, that tied the game at 8-8.
Chris Cloutier ended the Rock’s scoring run, and the Bandits’ scoreless drought of exactly 14 minutes, with a go-ahead tally with 5:29 left in the game. Newly signed forward Garrett Billings earned his point and assist as a Bandit on the goal.
Matt Gilray closed out the scoring for the Bandits with an empty-net goal with 44 seconds left.
With Saturday’s victory, the Bandits (3-1) now assume second place in the North Division, trailing first-place Halifax by 1.5 games.
Buffalo will head out west for a matchup with the Colorado Mammoth next Saturday at 9:30 p.m. ET from the Pepsi Center in Denver. Colorado (3-3) is coming off a 7-5 loss to the Vancouver Warriors on
Friday and a 12-6 win over the Saskatchewan Rush on Saturday.
The Bandits return home on Jan. 31 when they will face the expansion Rochester Knighthawks at 7 p.m. Tickets are still available for the game.