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NLL Playoffs: Bandits vs. Rock - LIVE-BLOG

Photo credit: Dave Marino

blog by Ben Tsujimoto  • 

Post-game—John Tavares was non-committal in saying whether or not he’d return to the Bandits next season for his 22nd as a pro.

Post-game—Clarification: It was Tracey Kelusky’s foot in the crease on the would-be game-tying goal for Buffalo that was called back by an official’s review. John Tavares, whose goal was denied at the buzzer, said that Kelusky was pushed into the crease by a Rock defender.

Post-game—Bandits’ head coach Darris Kilgour let loose on the officials in the post-game press conference, highlighting several blatantly missed calls that went in the Rock’s favor, including the non-call when Ian Llord separated his shoulder.

Final —Buffalo did not score in the second half of tonight’s game, as Nick Rose registered a clean sheet for the last 30 minutes. A terrible way to lose after conceding five unanswered goals—three by Toronto’s Kasey Beirnes—as the Bandits’ offense went silent.

————————————Final, 7-6 Toronto————————————-

:01—The goal does not count; Toronto has won 7-6 in a heartbreaker. The Rock mobs goalie Nick Rose, who whips off his mask in jubilation. While John Tavares had scored with enough time on the clock, Kelusky’s foot was ruled to have been in the crease after Luke Wiles hit Tavares with a perfect quick-stick feed at the right post. 

:01—Buzzer beater goal for Buffalo as John Tavares knots the score with one tick on the clock. It appears the goal has been waved off for a foot in the crease. The play is currently under review.

:07—Penalty on the Rock’s Bill Greer, and it’ll be 6 on 4 for the final eight seconds.

:59 —John Tavares is stone-walled by Nick Rose, and Tracey Kelusky’s second chance is stopped easily. 40 seconds to go. Cosmo runs to the bench for the extra attacker. One official has just overruled the other with 6.5 seconds left—it will be Bandit ball in the left corner with one chance.

1:35—Toronto’s in front, 7-6. Brenden Thenhaus spun around his defender and the former Bandit flipped a shot one-handed past Cosmo for the one-goal lead.

2:33—Steenhuis is crunched in the corner and loses the ball. Buffalo hasn’t scored in almost 30 minutes.

3:34—Leblanc resets as the Rock look for a good opportunity—turnover by Steenhuis in the corner after he came up with a theft. Josh Sanderson tries a shot from just inside the restraining line—easy save for Cosmo.

4:40—A double team by White and Self gives the ball back to Buffalo, but Rose is up to the task of Self’s shot. Shot clock violation on Toronto—great work from Chris White in the left corner.

4:47—Final media timeout, 6-6 tie.

5:25—Tavares flings a shot into Rose’s pads—no harm. Great save by Cosmo, who made himself big on a shot by Blaine Manning. Jesse Gamble and Sandy Chapman force Steenhuis into a turnover on the left wall—fantastic double-team. The game is still knotted at 6 as we reach the under five timeout.

6:48—No look shot by Billings flies high and left. Eight second violation on the Bandits, and the Rock get another chance with the ball.

7:55—Bouncer from a bad angle by Chad Culp gets stuck in Rose’s pads. The Rock PA announcer has this annoying chant of “Rosie”—finished with a high pitched noise—after each save. Great play by Darryl Gibson to pounce on a loose ball as it nearly trickled past a flustered Cosmo.

9:16—9,472 in attendance tonight at the Air Canada Centre. Bad pass from Steph Leblanc turns the ball over to Buffalo. Steenhuis darts in alone after he was given the baseline, but he’s hammered by a help defender before he can release a shot.

9:34—Stephen Hoar wins the ensuing faceoff for Toronto. Under 10 media timeout, 6-6 tie.

9:43—It’s a tie game. Toronto has fought back from down four as Kasey Beirnes completes his natural hat-trick on an easy shot from just outside the crease. To make matters worse, Cosmo and Jon Harasym are both down on the floor being attended to by Buffalo’s trainers. Oh, how the tides have turned. 6-6 tie.

10:08—Steenhuis scores for Buffalo, but it’s waved off for a crease violation.

11:22—Chants of “Go Rock, Go” cascade down from the stands, but Mike McNamara sneaks in to force a turnover. Terrific shoulder save by Nick Rose, as Kevin Buchanan’s blast seemed destined for the top corner. Off-speed bouncer from Culp almost troubles Rose, but a great interception by Tom Montour on defense kills the Rock’s hopes for a counterattack.

12:19—Flat out panic mode now for Buffalo, as the once comfortable four-goal advantage has been trimmed to one, and the Rock faithful are suddenly alive. Luke Wiles, off-balance, hums a shot 20 rows into the stands. He’s been very quiet tonight.

13:07—Mike Hobbins of the Rock and Buffalo’s Mat Giles collide in the left corner, and Giles gives him a few extra licks before the two get up. Toronto wins possession though, and scores. Kasey Beirnes is on his horse in front of the net again, sliding one inside the right post to make it 6-5 Buffalo.

15:00—Toronto claws its way back in the third quarter, scoring twice to the Bandits’ zero. Big save at the start of the fourth by Nick Rose, as he raised his right shoulder to shrug away Luke Wiles’ attempt at the near post.

——————————End of Third Quarter, 6-4 Buffalo—————————

1:40—The goal stands for Toronto. Terrific pass by Doyle, a patient finish by Beirnes. Buffalo squanders another possession after Wiles drops the ball behind the Rock cage. Toronto’s crowd is finally into it now, and the momentum clearly is in the home team’s favor.

1:40—If the goal stands, the score is 6-4 Rock. Unlike in Buffalo, there are no replays in the press box. Boo, Air Canada Centre, boo.

1:51—Cosmo is up to the challenge of Doyle’s blast, but an unselfish pass against the grain from Doyle to Kasey Beirnes has narrowed Buffalo’s lead to two. Beirnes flashed a low shot under Cosmo after an initial pump-fake—there wasn’t a Bandit defender in sight after both followed the cutting Doyle. Darris Kilgour throws out the challenge flag, however.

3:03—Blaine Manning’s shot is deflected, then Gibson does well to cut in front of Thenhaus’ pass and force a loose ball into the right corner. Shot clock expires—Buffalo ball. One armed pass from Tavares to Kelusky, who’s being hit from behind as he receives the pass.

4:08—Good long pass from Giles to Kelusky cutting from the baseline, but TK can’t find the lower right corner with his shot. Rose then stops Kelusky again on a low try. Doyle is errant on a behind-the-back scoop shot as he’s flattened by Jay Thorimbert in front of Cosmo’s cage.

4:28—Under five media timeout, Buffalo leads 6-3. Cosmo continues to play well in the second half despite the recent blemish. The Bandits’ offense, however, has gone quiet. The shots are 37-28 in favor of the home team.

5:19—Kelusky snaps a shot off the crossbar and straight down, but there’s no complaints from the Buffalo offensive players. Toronto responds immediately to cut the margin to three, as Garrett Billings sent a missile into the upper right corner from the point. 6-3 Buffalo.

5:38—As the head official watches the replay in the booth between the two penalty boxes, the players congregate in front of their respective benches. It’s ruled no goal.

6:15—Exceptional pass by Billings to Doyle at the right post doesn’t quite connect, and then Beirnes has his goal disallowed for a crease violation. Buffalo dodges a few bullets here in the third. Toronto head coach Troy Cordingley has 20 seconds after the goal was denied to determine whether or not to challenge, and he throws the yellow flag to midfield.

6:51—Beirnes snags a rebound from his knees and hits the right post. Llord’s injury has been determined a separated shoulder. He obviously will not return to the floor tonight.

8:00—Doyle runs the shot clock out. Rose raises his shoulders to reject Wiles’ shot from around a screen—he seems committed to not being beaten high in the second half.

8:56—The pause is getting a touch awkward. There does appear to be a hole in the net, however, so this may be a necessary stoppage. We’re back underway. Kelusky sends a shot into the chest of Rose, but Buffalo maintains possession. Wiles’ shot is knocked aside as well, and the Rock take over with just over a minute left on its kill.

9:01—Rock minor penalty on Jesse Gamble for holding the stick. Now there’s a crowd around Rose’s goal, and the official is tying down the netting of the cage. John Tavares is a little worked up about something. Buffalo’s first power play of the evening.

9:57—Billings rips a shot into Cosmo’s chest again, and he’s getting pretty obviously frustrated. Rob Marshall dispossesses Kevin Buchanan, but Cosmo sprawls to kick this one away. Good loose ball snatch by McNamara, and there’s a penalty coming up on the Rock.

11:07—Manning’s aim is too wide, and Buffalo comes away with it. Kelusky tries to score on a one-on-two, and Rose makes a fine save. Billings’ shot hits Cosmo in the chest, but his long outlet eludes Steenhuis.

12:23—Fine kick save by Cosmo again on Leblanc, then Scott Self offers great help defense at the back post to thwart another chance. Wiles fakes a shot and slips inside, but he’s drilled in the back and coughs up the ball.

13:39—Cosmo is too quick for Steph Leblanc’s snap-shot from 20 feet. Great screen-and-roll sends Giles in alone against Rose, who kicks the shot away—glorious chance for Buffalo to extend its lead to five.

15:00—The teams are back on the floor for the third quarter, and Damon Edwards scoops up the loose ball after the draw. Colin Doyle can’t put much mustard on his reaching shot, and Cosmo has no difficulty. Cam Woods loses his stick for Toronto, but Buffalo can’t get a shot on goal during that possession.

———————————-Halftime, 6-2 Buffalo———————————-

:02—The Rock get a good look at goal, but Leblanc’s sidewinder bounces wide of the right post, and Buffalo enters the halftime intermission with a four goal lead. A little skirmish between a frustrated Colin Doyle and Buffalo defender Chris White after the whistle.

1:30—Weak bouncer from Billings is engulfed by Cosmo. Under a minute to go, Toronto has the ball briefly before a pass into the corner goes awry. Rose stops Kelusky’s try for the near post, and the Rock call timeout to bring on the extra attacker with 20 ticks left.

2:19—Good initial save by Cosmo on Sanderson, and Doyle’s dive for a rebound attempt lands him in the crease. Under five media timeout, 6-2 Bandits.

3:41—Jarring hit from Chad Culp sends Glen Bryan into the Buffalo bench, then Kasey Beirnes hits the crossbar for Toronto.

4:03—John Tavares puts Buffalo up 6-2 after an unselfish play by Roger Vyse created a ton of shooting space for the 21-year-veteran. JT picked out Nick Rose’s top corner, and Buffalo continues to roll.

4:13—Chris White clobbers Garrett Billings, who can’t seem to get the ball in his stick tonight without getting slashed repeatedly.

5:44—Tom Montour forces Billings into another turnover, and then Steenhuis flips to Scott Self, who clangs the crossbar. Still Buffalo ball.

6:26—Bandit Steve Priolo, on the shelf because he has mono, has a whole pizza to himself in the chair next to me in the press box. Very nice—way to share, Steve.

7:16—A penalty on Darryl Gibson, however, quickly puts the Rock back on the man advantage. Quick passing around the perimeter leads to a quick back-post snipe from Josh Sanderson, and it’s 5-2 Buffalo now.

7:55—Terrific play by Scott Self in transition, as Buffalo raced down on a three-on-one—Self looked to Steenhuis on his left before firing a no-look pass to Tavares, who simply doesn’t miss unguarded from the doorstep. 5-1 Bandits.

8:23—After almost 22 minutes, the Rock is on the board. Captain Colin Doyle slithered through traffic in the middle before snapping a low shot to Cosmo’s left side. 4-1 Bandits.

9:57—Still very quiet in the Air Canada Centre—a Rock goal might bring the crowd to life, but there’s been little reason to celebrate with Toronto laying a goose-egg. Billings blows a golden opportunity on a sick find from Colin Doyle, but an eight-second violation on Buffalo gives Damon Edwards a clear breakaway; Cosmo stuffs him.

9:57—Under 10 media timeout, 4-0 Bandits.

11:08—A little more helter-skelter for the Bandits now, as they’ve been without a sustained offensive possession in the last three minutes. Garrett Billings hammers the crossbar, and the deflection sails into the crowd. Buffalo’s offense uses a whole shot clock to give its defenders a breather.

11:47—Cosmo makes a spectacular save on Kasey Beirnes, who swept in front of the net from left to right and tried to beat Buffalo’s goalie to the right post. Fantastic reaction time from the veteran net-minder.

14:15—Mark Steenhuis tries a solo foray through a crowd, and he’s stripped. Quick shot from Giles on the left side is tipped away by Rose—Buffalo gets the loose ball, however. Rob Marshall blocks Wiles’ shot, then Gamble pings the post—Toronto’s best scoring chance. Thenhaus gets a chance, too, but Cosmo’s glove is equally as quick.

15:00—It was the ideal first quarter for Buffalo, as the defense stood firm, the team avoided dumb penalties and the offense converted on its chances. Goals from Scott Self, Luke Wiles, Mark Steenhuis and Tracey Kelusky for the Bandits.

————————————End of First Quarter, Buffalo 4-0————————————-

:06—Buffalo’s training staff rushes onto the field to attend to Ian Llord, who was clobbered in the corner after sprinting down the floor. He walks off under his own power, but his right shoulder looks to be in serious pain as the trainer supports his right shoulder. Don’t expect him back.

1:49—Billings puts some velocity behind his shot, but it’s smack into Cosmo’s chest again. Toronto’s power play looks much shakier than the last meeting. Mark Steenhuis scores even-strength for Buffalo, turning and snapping a shot that fooled Rose. 4-0 Bandits!

3:43—Mat Giles heads to the penalty box for Buffalo—the game’s first penalty. Josh Sanderson tries to beat Cosmo through the five-hole, but Cos covers the gap quickly. The minor was for delay of game. Colin Doyle has a try from 25 feet, and Cosmo’s shoulder blocks that away.

3:59—Under five media timeout, still 3-0 Bandits. Buffalo’s shown good discipline on defense—no defender looks uncomfortable in his slides so far, and the Rock’s movement off-the-ball has been lacking. Where’s Colin Doyle tonight?

4:22—Ambitious “dunk” attempt from behind the cage by Kelusky, and Rose gets his shoulders back in time to thwart the chance.

5:47—Buffalo’s defense is sturdy again, as Brenden Thenhaus fired a shot wide of the target. No good looks on the next possession for Buffalo, but Chris White and Tommy Montour combine to force a turnover in the corner.

7:17 —Long drive from Buchanan doesn’t trouble Rose. Good forced turnover by McNamara on Manning, who’s struggling with the unfamiliar young defender. Patrick Merrill blocks Mark Steenhuis’ shot from just inside the restraining line.

8:01—Power move by Luke Wiles from left to right, and he scores with authority high over Rose’s right shoulder again. 3-0 Buffalo, and the boos rain down in the Air Canada Centre!

8:53—A beautiful shot-fake by Kevin Buchanan planted former Bandit Damon Edwards on his derriere, but Buchanan’s hummer of a shot was a foot wide. Leblanc is denied point blank by Cosmo—the Rock’s #17 failed to pick a corner.

9:16 —Eight second violation on Toronto for failing to get the ball across the midfield line in the allotted time. Bandit ball after the first media timeout. Great energy early from the visitors, especially at the defensive end. Smart and physical, the entire unit looks in synch.

9:57—Scott Self explodes out in transition for Buffalo after Chad Culp picked off Garrett Billings’ pass—Self walked in alone on Rose and picked out the upper left corner—2-0 Bandits!

10:42—Good check from Jay Thorimbert on Manning, who tried a desperation over-head shot as the shot clock expired.

11:33—Kasey Beirnes tries a shot from a bad angle, and it’s deflected wide. Mat Giles flings one wide, and the rebound caroms all the way to the Bandits’ defensive end of the floor. Mike McNamara continues to hit everyone and everything in sight.

12:23—Mike McNamara plants Toronto’s Blaine Manning along the near boards, then Colin Doyle sees a good look at goal, but it’s right into Cosmo’s pads.

13:12—Late in the shot clock, Kevin Buchanan awkwardly loses his stick into the crowd. At the other end, Cosmo sprawls to make a save and drops his own stick. Some early nerves from the visitors, but they’ve been spotted to a one-goal advantage.

13:52—Goal, Buffalo! Tracey Kelusky curls around a Mat Giles screen and rifles a low drive through the wickets of Rose. 1-0 Bandits.

14:48—Cosmo with a big save right off the bat on a break by Stephen Hoar, then the Rock’s Rose parries away Wiles’ shot from distance.

15:00—There’s no more than 7,000 people here, and the PA announcer’s line of “Let’s make some noise for the boys!” was pretty humiliating. Thorimbert to take the opening draw for Buffalo.

15:00—We’re set for the first draw—as widely expected because of his strong finish to the season, Anthony Cosmo is in goal for Buffalo.

Pre-game—A healthy contingent of Bandits fans are seated behind the visitor’s bench—there’s a decent amount of orange in the stands.

Pre-game—Defenseman (or defenceman as they say in these parts) Darryl Gibson is back in the line-up for Buffalo, and the Bandits are at full-strength tonight against the league’s defending champions. Buffalo lost in the second round—the East Division final—last year against the Rock as John Tavares was a surprising scratch due to a calf injury. JT is in the lineup tonight, however.

Pre-game—The Thompson scratch is a mild surprise to me, as Kilgour has maintained considerable faith in his top rookie this year. The pony-tailed #74 hasn’t been scratched since Feb. 12 against Philadelphia.

Pre-game—Toronto’s only notable scratch is Dan Carey, and the Rock—beset by injuries for much of this year—are at full health. Blaine Manning’s back in the lineup after getting hurt in the season opener. The Rock’s Nick Rose, who stood strong between the pipes in Toronto’s 15-9 win against Buffalo at the First Niagara Center, will start in goal.

Pre-game—In the other quarterfinal match-up last night, the Rochester Knighthawks prevailed over the Philadelphia Wings 14-13 to advance to next weekend’s semifinals. If Buffalo wins tonight, the team will travel to Blue Cross Arena.

Pre-game—Scratches for Buffalo are Brandon Francis, Travis Irving and Jeremy Thompson. Rookie defender Mike McNamara remains in the lineup after a strong stretch after being signed late in the season.

Pre-game—The Buffalo Bandits have taken the two-hour drive north to take on the Toronto Rock in the first round of the NLL Playoffs. The Rock clinched the first seed in the East Division with a 7-9 record, while the Bandits finished in the cellar, losing the tiebreakers in a three-way tie with Rochester and Philadelphia.

TAGGED: air canada centre, buffalo bandits, john tavares, live-blog nll, nll first round, nll playoffs, toronto rock

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