By Alex Pagliano - Bandits.com
Two weeks removed from an “awful” performance, the Buffalo Bandits came back from four goals down at the half to defeat the Toronto Rock at First Niagara Center on Friday, 12-10. The win marked the first home win for the Bandits this season and their first over the course of their last seven games in Buffalo.
“When teams come in here, they’re going to be in for a battle,” Bandits head coach Troy Cordingley said. “Two weeks ago [that was not true], but tonight, it was a battle. It was good lacrosse.”
The Bandits improve to 1-1 on the season.
Toronto (1-1) opened the scoring with a 4-0 run that would span the duration of the opening quarter. Stephan Leblanc and Kasey Beirnes opened the scoring for Toronto on the power play, and teammates Damon Edwards and Colin Doyle each added a goal to end the quarter.
Almost eight minutes into the second quarter, the Bandits would respond. Ryan Benesch beat Toronto goaltender Nick Rose to cut the lead to three goals, making it 4-1. Toronto would answer just 28 seconds later, as Leblanc added his second of the game the lead back to four. Benesch cut the margin to three with his second goal of the game at 11:31, but Doyle would push the Toronto lead back to four with a goal 14:21 into the half.
Winning 50/50 Ticket Number: 02801470 (Full Pot: $12,600; Split: $6,300)
The Rock led 6-2 at the half, but that never fazed the Bandits.
“I thought the game was pretty evenly matched throughout the first half,” Cordingley said. “The goals finally started dropping for us in the second half on some transition opportunities.”
And, the goals did come in the third quarter for the Bandits. Buffalo outscored Toronto 4-0 over the course of the third quarter, using goals from Steve Priolo, Benesch, Chad Culp and Mark Steenhuis to even the score after three quarters, 6-6.
With 1:09 remaining in the third period, the Bandits caught a break. Toronto defenseman Craig England took a five-minute major penalty for high-sticking. The Bandits took advantage, scoring two consecutive goals to start the fourth quarter on the power play.
Aaron Wilson would add his first goal of the season just 31 seconds into the quarter to give the Bandits their first lead of the night, 7-6. Jamie Rooney would follow suit, scoring his first goal of the season 46 seconds later to expand the lead to two, 8-6.
Toronto would answer back, knotting the game even, 8-8, with 11:57 remaining in the fourth quarter. But the Bandits continued to compete, as Andrew Watt scored at 6:50 to increase the lead to one, 9-8.
Priolo would add his second goal of the game at 7:50 to expand the lead to two, 10-8. Toronto would score twice more, but never cut the Bandits lead to less than two goals over the course of the final 8:10 of regulation time.
Anthony Cosmo earned the victory for Buffalo. Cosmo stopped 26-of-31 shots in the opening half and closed the game, stopping 28-of-32 shots in the second half. The veteran received the “212 degrees hat” after the game, an award that his teammates bestowed upon him for his effort.
“Cosmo was good,” Cordingley said. “He was our MVP [tonight].”
Cosmo appreciated the compete level of his defense, a unit that was much maligned after an unimpressive showing by all accounts in the season opener against Philadelphia.
“Credit all to my defense,” he said. “I’ve been working on my confidence. When the hard saves come [the defensive performance tonight], pushed me to have that confidence.”
Buffalo travels to Philadelphia for a 4 p.m. faceoff on Sunday.