Bandits rattle off seven unanswered, stymie Rock
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • April 08, 2011 @ 10:04pm
Toronto head coach Troy Cordingley has every reason to be furious at his team after the Rock imploded in the second half of Buffalo’s 11-8 win on Saturday night at the Air Canada Centre. The Bandits erupted for five consecutive goals late in the third quarter—then another two in the fourth—before the Rock tallied two in the game’s final minute.
Remarkably, no Bandit scored multiple goals in the 7-0 spurt. With Buffalo trailing 6-4 after Rob Marshall’s counterattack score, Brett Bucktooth snapped a desperate out-of-rhythm shot past Bob Watson with 7:46 left, sapping the keeper’s confidence. Before you could catch your breath, Tracey Kelusky snatched his own rebound—a favorable bounce off the back boards—and beat Watson high.
The NLL’s all-time leading scorer John Tavares then took a pretty shovel pass from Bucktooth and, alone at the top of the crease, placed a shot neatly into a corner. The Rock defense traded stares of accusation, as leaving Tavares unmarked 10 feet from goal is inexcusable. Brenden Thenhaus joined in on the barrage, flicking in a quick shot from the middle before Watson could position himself.
The evening continued to spiral downward for Watson, who was honored tonight in the last Rock regular season home game of his 15 year career. Mark Steenhuis slithered past two defenders along the boards just before Toronto’s restraining line, then fed Chad Culp between the face-off circles for a left-handed missile. Kyle Clancy and Steenhuis tacked on fourth quarter goals, rubbing salt in the wounds of listless Toronto.
Mike Thompson further bolstered his resume for NLL Defensive Player of the Year honors, stopping 36 of Toronto’s 44 shots on goal. Big Mike, as usual, looked limber in the crease and did not allow weak shots to slip past. Buffalo.com favorite Chris Corbeil scooped up another nine loose balls and delivered a bone-jarring blow to Colin Doyle—thwarting a scoring chance—shortly after the Bandit defenseman left the penalty box.
The Bandits improve to 9-4 after the road victory; Toronto falls to 10-5, and the Rock’s dreams of an East Division crown are in jeopardy. Garrett Billings (9 shots on goal, one goal) and Blaine Manning (7 SOG, no goals) were out of sync throughout, as Kasey Beirnes (3 goals, 2 assists) was the most dangerous Rock attacker.
Buffalo travels to Rochester tomorrow night for a 7:35 p.m. game aired on Versus.