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Live from First Niagara Center: Bandits vs. Rock

7:07 p.m. - Can the second weekend of a season be an important one for a team playing an 18-game season?

Probably not. Still, the Buffalo Bandits need to show something in their two games that are coming up. Buffalo hosts Toronto tonight, and then plays in Philadelphia on Sunday.

The Bandits are coming off an opening night loss to the Wings. Now they play two divisional opponents. An 0-3 start would not be a good sign.

Coach Troy Cordingley will make a couple of changes to his lineup. Aaron Wilson and Chad Culp are in. David Brock and Joe Resetarits are out.

Anthony Cosmo is back in goal. He's under the microscope as well, although he didn't have much help two weeks ago.

For Toronto, old friend Chris White is on injured reserve and won't play tonight. The Rock did make one interesting move this week, signing Nick Diachenko to their practice squad. Diachenko was the Bandits' first choice in last fall's draft (2nd round). He did not make the Buffalo roster, but landed a spot with Toronto.

7:13 p.m - And congratulations to Kurtis Wagar, who became a new papa this week. He even tweeted a picture of him with his brand new daughter shortly after her arrival. Kurtis probably was pleased with her timing - he didn't have to miss a game.

7:29 p.m. - We may be playing the "smallest crowd since ..." game tonight. Buffalo had 13,564 in its home opener. That was the smallest crowd since March 8, 2008. Since the Bandits lost the opener, and Friday nights traditionally don't draw as well as Saturdays, we may have to go back a little further in that department. Buffalo's last four-digit crowd was on April 4, 2004, but we'll beat that tonight.

By the way, the wrestlers beat the Bandits to the Saturday night date this week.

7:46 p.m. - Only one goal so far, and it went to Toronto. Stephan Leblanc scored on the power play. Buffalo hasn't been too sharp in its passing so far and missed some opportunities as a result. Toronto hasn't been overwhelming either.

7:52 p.m. - Two early power-play goals have given the Rock a boost. Toronto has added two other goals, and now lead by 4-0. Cosmo was a little shaken up on the last goal, but will stay in the game. One of the goals was Colin Doyle's 400th as a member of the Rock.

7:59 p.m. - A dreary first period for the Bandits, who couldn't get much going. Toronto has a 4-0 lead and there's not much electricity in the building after those first 15 minutes. That's the 32nd time in team history that the team has been shut out in a period.

8:07 p.m. - No news is bad news for the Bandits. Buffalo still hasn't scored with 9:47 to go in the second quarter. Toronto is stuck at four for the moment, but the Rock has tried a ton of spectacular passes lately. The plays are just missing, but Toronto is still beating Buffalo to those loose balls. At the other end, many Bandit shots have been at long range and been swallowed by goalie Nick Rose.

8:12 p.m - Ryan Benesch ends the drought by scoring from close range. He scored on a three-on-two break. Buffalo had only gone an entire half without scoring, and that record is again safe.

8:16 p.m. - Buffalo's momentum after the goal lasted 37 seconds. Leblanc struck again to make it 5-1, Toronto. Cosmo has made a few good saves lately. 

8:28 p.m. - Halftime here. Toronto is up, 6-2, with Benesch scoring both Buffalo goals.

8:42 p.m. - Back to work.

8:48 p.m. - No scoring in the first six minutes. Steve Priolo of the Bandits had a good look on a 3-on-1, but hit the post. Cosmo had been quite solid for the most part tonight, and the defense in front of him has been better. But the offense is still missing.

8:56 p.m. - More of the same in the past few minutes. Both goalies have been stopping everything in sight. Naturally, this sort of stretch doesn't help the team trailing by four goals.

9:01 p.m. - Say, the Bandits have exploded. They have scored two goals in less than two minutes to cut the lead to 6-4. Steve Priolo and Benesch do the honors. And the Rock haven't done much on offense in a while.

9:04 p.m. - Yikes. It's 6-6 after goals by Chad Culp and Mark Steenhuis. And it stays that way at the end of the third quarter, with Toronto taking a major penalty that has 3:51 left. We've got ourselves a ball game.

9:15 p.m. - 11:15 to go in regulation, and it's 8-8. Toronto scored the last two goals to tie it. This all is as sudden as it is unexpected.

9:17 p.m. - The attendance checks in at 11,404 - smallest crowd since 2006.

9:25 p.m. - Only 5:41 left to play, with Buffalo clinging to a 10-9 lead.

9:34 p.m. - John Tavares got a huge power-play goal to put the Bandits ahead, 11-9. We have 1:46 left with the media timeout. It's been a thrilling final 20 minutes of play, especially for the Buffalo fans in the building.

9:40 p.m. - Bandits win a wild one, 12-10. Off to the postgame interviews.

11:44 p.m. - No big surprises from those interviewed. All were very happy to get a home victory; Troy Cordingley said he had talked about making Buffalo a tough place to play again since training camp. The stories will be posted on line shortly. Next up - Philadelphia on Sunday. Good night.

--- Budd Bailey


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About Sports, Ink

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey has served in a variety of roles in Buffalo sports in the past 35 years, including reporter, talk-show host, baseball announcer, public relations staffer and author. He covers the Bandits and running for The News when not working as an editor.