ROCK WIN OT THRILLER OVER BUFFALO
Brandon Slade Scores The Winner
Toronto, ON – Oh what a feeling! The Toronto Rock (10-5) battled back in the fourth quarter, forced overtime and defeated the East Division leading Buffalo Bandits (12-4) by a score of 12-11 capturing the season series in the process.
Defender turned forward Brandon Slade scored the tying goal with 3:30 left in the fourth quarter and his OT winner came 1:08 into the extra frame to give the Rock their seventh win in a row at home.
“I’m ecstatic,” said Slade after scoring the biggest goal of his young NLL career. “It’s an unbelievable feeling to play in front of these fans. And, to get an overtime winner, it’s an unbelievable feeling and I don’t even know how to describe it.”
The contest was a back-and-forth tug of war all night long. It felt like two prizefighters throwing haymakers at each other for over 60 minutes with the last man standing being declared the winner. The game was tied seven times.
The Bandits scored first and built a 3-1 lead but the Rock duo of Dan Lintner and Rob Hellyer fired the counterpunches to tie the score 3-3 after one. The Rock outscored the Bandits 3-1 in the second quarter and carried a 6-4 lead into halftime.
The second half did not start well for the Rock with Buffalo scoring three goals in a span of 1:29 before the third quarter was five minutes old to take a 7-6 lead. A fourth straight Buffalo goal came on the power play from Chris Cloutier to give the visitors an 8-6 lead. The Rock scraped themselves back up off the mat as Johnny Powless and Adam Jones drew the home side even 8-8 through three quarters.
Buffalo was able to push ahead in the fourth quarter, going up 11-9. But again, there was no quit in this Rock team tonight as Rob Hellyer and then Slade scored 59 seconds apart to force the extra frame.
In overtime, the Bandits had the first possession but were unsuccessful. After the Rock recovered the loose ball, the Rock bench called timeout. From there, the offence went to work and after a reset off a wild loose ball scrum, the Rock had a second straight chance to end it. Taking a pass from Hellyer, Slade spun off his check, twirled brilliantly towards the goal firing home the winning shot to send the crowd in Rock City home with a win.
In his first game back in over a month, Jones scored twice and added five assists for seven points. Hellyer matched the Jones point total, but went about it in a different way, scoring four goals and three assists. Powless and Slade each finished with a pair and single tallies came from the sticks of Dan Craig, and Lintner.
Nick Rose earned the win between the pipes with 40 saves and was once again absolutely clutch when the Rock needed a big save.
“That’s pretty well how it goes when you’re playing (Matt Vinc),” said Nick Rose of the close goaltending battle with his Buffalo counterpart. “You know you have to be on top of your game, it was a back and forth battle and I’m just glad my team came out on top.”
Tomorrow night, the Rock travel to Rochester to face the Knighthawks at Blue Cross Arena at 7:30 p.m. ET. Fans can watch the game on Bleacher Report Live.