January 22, 2011 - 7:28 PM
7:26 p.m. -- We're ready for another home season for the Bandits, as they are being introduced to a crowd of about 15,000 in HSBC Arena. I'll be around to make a few comments as this one goes along.
There's not much news to report going into the game. Everyone is healthy, so it's the same starting lineup as last week. Toronto figures to be a little tired tonight. The Rock won an epic overtime game last night against powerful Boston. You'd have to think Toronto might be a little tired going into this one, but that never works out the way you'd think it might.
7:30 p.m. -- There's a lot going on in the NLL this week. I wish I could write an "Inside the NLL" column for the paper. Short version -- the local and national television exposure can only help the league. Playing the All-Star Game at Turning Stone Casino strikes me as odd. R-rated halftime shows in Boston probably aren't what the league has in mind for attracting fans.
The Kilgour brothers are being honored right now for making the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame. I'm on the media advisory board for the Hall, and there wasn't much argument that these two men have done as much as anyone for lacrosse in this area.
7:38 p.m. -- The Bandits have scored two goals in five seconds (John Tavares and Chad Culp). It's 2-0 Buffalo after only a minute.
7:42 p.m. -- It took a long, long review, but the Bandits won a challenge on a Brett Bucktooth shot-turned-goal. It's 3-0, Buffalo, after only 1:56 in the first quarter.
7:54 p.m. -- Lacrosse is a game of runs, and the Rock has gone off on one. Toronto has the last three goals, so we're tied at 3. You didn't think it would be easy, did you?
8:05 p.m. -- Both teams have added a goal in the final five minutes of the period, so Buffalo and Toronto are tied, 4-4, after 15 minutes. One impression about the Toronto offense: These guys are good. They move the ball around very well. That's not to say the Rock will win, but it's easy to see why it was a preseason pick to contend for the league title.
8:12 p.m. -- The teams continue to trade goals. Tom Montour has scored his second goal of the night to tie the game at 5, after Garrett Billings had given Toronto its first lead of the night. Based on what I've seen so far, you don't want to give the Rock many power plays.
8:17 p.m. - Colin Doyle has Toronto's second power-play goal of the night. It's 7-5, Toronto.
8:21 p.m. -- It's going to be one of those nights. Buffalo has responded with three goals in less than two minutes. Kyle Clancy scored to end the run; the Bandits have an 8-7 lead.
8:30 p.m. -- These teams are playing at an amazing pace, resulting in a very entertaining game. Mike Thompson has actually played very well, and it's 8-8 late in the second quarter.
8:38 p.m. -- Roger Vyse's goal is the difference in the first half as the Bandits go into the locker room, 9-8. Whew. We all need the halftime break.
8:58 p.m. -- Play has resumed in HSBC Arena. Toronto had a 29-23 edge in shots in the first 30 minutes, which shows how well Thompson played on a difficult night for goalies.
9:01 p.m. -- It's another good start to the half for the Bandits. Vyse and Frank Resetarits have increased the lead to 11-8 and chased goalie Bob Watson. Pat Campbell is the new Rock netminder.
9:12 p.m. -- Tavares has netted another (#696, if you are counting) to make it a 12-8 game. We have 4:46 left in the second half, and the Rock has shown a little less jump after halftime. Hard to say if Toronto might be out of gas a bit, but the Bandits -- as the fresher team -- probably didn't mind getting into a high-tempo game with the Rock having played last night.
9:20 p.m. -- The Bandits kept the Rock off the scoreboard for the entire third quarter. That gave them time to build up a 12-8 lead after 45 minutes.
9:31 p.m. -- It's tough to keep the Rock off the scoreboard forever. Toronto has tallied a couple of goals to cut the margin to 13-10 with 9:49 left. In other words, we're not done yet.
9:43 p.m. -- No, we're not. The Rock keeps coming, having cut the lead to 13-12 with 5:18 left.
10:01 p.m. -- Overtime. Stephan Leblanc's goal with 10.1 seconds left ties it, 14-14. A thriller.
10:10 p.m. -- Scott Self scores on a breakaway to win it for the Bandits, 15-14.
11:43 p.m. -- I had to ask. When Scott Self came out into the hallways after the game, I said I hadn't memorized his lacrosse career, so I needed to know if the goal tonight was the biggest of his career.
"For sure," he responded.
Self bailed out the Bandits on a night where they might have been left muttering about a five-goal, fourth-quarter lead that got away. Instead, they picked up a full game on Toronto and Boston in the East. This has the makings of a fascinating season.
--- Budd Bailey