The Buffalo Bandits will go into the National Lacrosse League playoffs as favorite to win its first title since 2008. But a lot of money will be wagered on the Toronto Rock.
The Rock offense looked absolutely awful in the first half but its defense allowed the front-end to find its footing and go on a 7-1 run in the fourth quarter, leading to a 10-7 win at KeyBank Center on Saturday.
Tom Schreiber scored with 4:20 left on a slapshot-type swing to give Toronto the lead for good.
“It was ugly on our side of the ball,” Scheiber said. “Our defense was excellent containing a really good offense on that side.”
“We have a lot of trust in each other and eventually we figured it out.”
The game had no bearing in the standings as Buffalo finished the regular season at 14-4 and Toronto ends at 13-5. But it’s very likely the Rock will return to Buffalo should it beat the Halifax Thunderbirds on Friday at FirstOntario Centre and will do so with the knowledge they can compete with the likes of MVP candidates Matt Vinc and Dhane Smith.
The Rock trailed 5-1 at halftime and 6-3 after three quarters. But Challen Rogers sparked the comeback with three goals in the first 10 minutes of the final period and Schreiber scored once before getting the winning goal. Sheldon Burns and Mitch de Snoo added late goals to put the game away. Dan Dawson scored twice earlier and Dan Craig also scored.
Kyle Buchanan scored three for Buffalo. Josh Byrne scored twice. Tehoka Nanticoke and Chris Cloutier also scored.
The Thunderbirds clinched third in the division with a 13-10 win over Rochester. The Albany FireWolves finish fourth after a 17-19 win over the New York Riptide and will open next Saturday in Buffalo. And the Philadelphia Wings eliminated the Georgia Swarm 11-10 to take fifth place and the crossover spot into the West Division playoffs.
Late Saturday, the Colorado Mammoth, San Diego Seals, and Calgary Roughnecks sorted out their playoff seeding.