Toronto Rock loses to Buffalo Bandits

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The Toronto Rock struggled to launch their offense after a long holiday break.

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The Rock, who saw his first action on Saturday since a win over the Philadelphia Wings on Dec. 18, had only slight success against Buffalo Bandits goaltender Matt Vinc in a 12-6 loss at Key Bank Center.

Vinc, arguably the best goaltender in National Lacrosse League history, gave Toronto no chance to return to the game after the Bandits made a run early in the third quarter to gain control for real.

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The Rock were shut out in the first quarter as two Buffalo forwards began their quest for what would be a four-goal game each.

Josh Byrne, who became Buffalo’s most effective offensive threat, scored two goals during the period.

Chase Fraser also opened his account.

The only productive stretch of Toronto occurred in the second quarter.

Challen Rogers scored both in transition and on offense.

Dan Craig took advantage of a free bounce off the back glass and Rob Hellyer made his signature cut in front of the goal. Fraser and Ian MacKay kept Buffalo’s advantage going before the break.

The penalties hurt the Rock at the start of the third and the Bandits took control.

Byrne and Dhane Smith gave Buffalo a three-goal cushion with struggling Toronto.

Then Byrne scored shorthanded while Toronto had a five-minute advantage and Fraser added another later.

Reid Reinholdt scored for Toronto, but his team trailed 9-5 after three.

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Things turned sour between the two longtime rivals in the last period, with a few skirmishes occurring in the later stages of the final period. Fraser, Tehoka Nanticoke and Chris Cloutier finished the scoring for Buffalo, who is now 3-0. Reinholdt scored his second for Toronto.

Forward Dan Dawson was among three Rock players out of the roster due to COVID-19.

Tom Schreiber was also absent as he and his wife anticipated the birth of their first child.

The Rock (2-2) will return to FirstOntario Center next Saturday to face the Halifax Thunderbirds.

The match will be played without fans in the arena.

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