Scott Self scored 4:01 into overtime to help theBuffalo Bandits defeat the Toronto Rock 15-14 at HSBC Arena on Saturday night.
John Tavares netted a hat trick and added two assists while Mark Steenhuis tallied four assists in the Bandits’ 20th home opener. Goaltender Mike Thompson stopped 42 of Toronto’s 56 shots to help his team end Toronto’s three-game winning streak.
“It’s good to pull off a close one,” said Bandits Head Coach Darris Kilgour. “Last year we lost a bunch of those in the fourth quarter, and we almost lost tonight, but the boys stuck with it and we got a big win in overtime. It was a huge win.”
Video: Game Highlights
Photo Gallery: Bandits 15, Rock 14 (OT)
Photo Gallery: Buffalo Bandettes
Audio: Darris Kilgour Post-Game
Audio: John Tavares Post-Game
Audio: Scott Self Post-Game
Audio: Brenden Thenhaus Post-Game
The Bandits got off to a great start as they scored on their first three shots of the game. Tavares, Chad Culp and Brett Bucktooth gave the Bandits an early 3-0 lead.
Toronto rallied back with goals from Blaine Manning, Kasey Beirnes, and Garrett Billings to tie the game.Tom Montour would regain the lead for the Bandits, but Toronto evened it up again after Manning netted his second goal.
Toronto was the first to score in the second quarter when Billings netted his second goal on the power play to take the lead. The Bandits responded less than a minute later whenMontour tallied his second goal of the game.
Buffalo ran into penalty trouble midway through the second period, which resulted in two goals from Colin Doyle. The Bandits rallied back to re-take the lead with goals from Brenden Thenhaus, Bucktooth and Kyle Clancy. The Bandits’ flurry of goals chased goaltender Bob Watson from the net. Toronto replaced him with Pat Campbell.
Doyle tied the game at eight when Toronto’s captain netted his third goal of the game.The Bandits responded after Roger Vyse scored to give Buffalo a 9-8 lead going into halftime.
In the third quarter, the Bandits picked up where they left off with three straight goals from Vyse, Frank Resetarits, and Tavares. Thompson held strong between the pipes as the Bandits goaltender stopped all of Toronto’s ten shots in the third.
Buffalo continued to roll at the start of the fourth quarter after Thenhaus beat Campbell to grab his second goal of the game. The resilient Toronto Rock would not stay down as they tied the game with five consecutive goals from Billings, Aaron Pascas, Doyle, and two from Stephan Leblanc to put the Rock to tie the game at 14 goals apiece.
Tavares netted his third goal of the game when the 20-year veteran scored with one arm from behind the net. However, the Rock would force overtime when Leblanc beat Thompson in the low corner of the net with ten seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Despite the late surge by the Rock, the Bandits were able to win the game when Self scored a breakaway goal in overtime.
“We played some pretty good defense and then Chris White picked up the loose ball so I yelled and took off, and he just led me with the pass and I was able to run into it,” Self said after the game. “I was worried about them catching me, so I just picked a spot and shot it.”
Buffalo now moves on to 2-1 on the season while Toronto drops to 3-1. The two clubs will get back at it again in the second half of the home-and-home series on Saturday, Jan. 29th at 7:00 p.m. at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.