The Buffalo Bandits fell into an early hole Saturday night and couldn’t climb out in an 18-7 loss to the Toronto Rock and FirstOntario Centre.
Toronto jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter and never looked back. The Rock’s offense was spearheaded by contributions from Corey Small (5+5), Tom Schreiber (4+5), Dan Craig (3+4), and Challen Rogers (2+3).
The Bandits’ efforts were led by Dhane Smith (1+4), Josh Byrne (2+2), Chris Cloutier (2+0), and Brad McCulley (0+2).
In net, the Bandits rotated between veteran Matt Vinc and Devlin Shanahan as the game went on. Vinc started the game and finished his night with 19 saves on 31 shots while Shanahan stopped 15 of 21 attempts.
Nick Rose handled netminder duties for Toronto, making 39 saves on 46 shots.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Toronto came out the gates swinging, piling an early lead onto Buffalo with contributions from Small, and a pair of shorthanded goals from Latrell Harris and Rogers. Toronto’s first three goals came in a span of just 2:38.
Vinc’s night did not become any easier as the quarter progressed, with Craig adding to the Toronto lead at the 6:56 mark to put the Rock up by four.
A goal from Smith appeared to give the Bandits some life, but it was called off after a crease violation, snuffing out the spark before it could ignite.
At 3:20, Small notched his second of the game, with Craig adding another just 25 seconds later. Craig’s second of the game prompted a goalie change for the Bandits, as Shanahan entered the game for Vinc.
Josh Jubenville’s first of the game granted Toronto a 7-0 lead, but Cloutier finally broke the Bandits’ goose egg with 12.1 seconds left in the quarter, giving Buffalo a much-needed goal as the two teams headed into the second quarter.
Byrne continued to add fire to the Bandits’ simmering momentum, ripping home a power-play goal at 10:37 to cut their deficit to five. Byrne didn’t let up, firing home another, moments later to make It 7-3.
What seemed like an implausible comeback quickly became more hopeful for Buffalo as the second quarter continued.
Brandon Slade bounced one past Shanahan’s five hole at the 6:33 mark, halting the Bandits’ 3-0 run. Buchanan answered back for the Bandits, spinning around his defender and burying the ball in the back of the net to cut Toronto’s lead to four.
However, that is as close as Buffalo would get the rest of the way.
Small completed his hat trick at the 6:11 mark, and Tom Schreiber tallied his first of the contest to give Toronto a 10-4 lead.
Vinc returned to the game in Shanahan’s place after Schreiber’s goal. Smith garnered his second of the matchup to keep the Bandits squarely in the game. Small’s fourth of the game would give Toronto the six goal lead as the first half ended.
Cloutier netted his second of the game at the 13:51 mark to give the Bandits the first tally out of the half, but Jubenville answered back less than 30 seconds later to return the six goal edge to the Rock.
Rogers tallied another at 12:22, with Small netting his fifth of the game 20 seconds later to give Toronto a 14-6 lead. Toronto’s lead continued to grow with an addition from Schreiber.
Dalton Sulver’s first of the game would be overshadowed by Craig, who netted a goal with one second remaining in the quarter to give Toronto the 16-7 lead as the final quarter approached.
Schreiber’s two goals in the fourth quarter sealed the game for Toronto, putting them up 18-7. A chippy game was highlighted by a flurry of all-out brawls as the clock ticked down to the end, illustrating how intense one of the league’s most fiery rivalries truly is.
The Buffalo Bandits will have a chance to return to the win column when they host the New York Riptide on Saturday April 15th. Faceoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. from KeyBank Center.