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Live from the Air Canada Centre: Bandits vs. Rock

6:37 p.m. - Hello from Toronto. It's Good Friday, and all the stores are closed on this side of the border. That made for an easy trip up for tonight's game between the Buffalo Bandits and Toronto Rock. I believe this is the second such game in recent years between the teams on Good Friday, and the idea certainly has my approval. 

It's a big game for both teams relatively speaking. There is something at stake here, as second place has not been decided in the NLL East. Buffalo would have to lose its remaining games, while Toronto would have to win its two. That's not out of the question, The Bandits play in Rochester Saturday and then come home next week to face the Rock, and the Knighthawks wouldn't mind spoiling that party. Toronto plays Minnesota next week. Buffalo, therefore, would like to win this one right here and get to rest its regulats a little bit.

Kevin Brownell has been sent to the disabled list with a case of the fly. David Brock is back in the lineup, as Jamie Rooney is the other scratch. 

Anthony Cosmo will start in goal for Buffalo. When he makes his 17th save tonight, that will be his 663rd save of the season. That would break the NLL record for saves in a season. The old mark was set last year by Matt Vinc of Rochester. Cosmo will be doing it in his 16th game of the season, the same as last season's schedule. So, you'd have to say he earned this one as opposed to taking advantage of the 18-game schedule.

6:43 p.m. - The league announced today it is trying something new with its awards. Three finalists for the various honors will be announced after the season in the month of June. Then there will be a ceremony in Toronto on August 31. Sounds like a good idea, although following the hockey example of doing it right after the playoffs probably would give it a bigger publicity boost. But I'm told there will be an NLL camp here in late August, so it will go along  with that. We'll see how it works out. 

6:46 p.m. - By the way, Josh Sanderson and Jimmy Purves are scratched tonight. Nick Diachenko is playing for Toronto. He was the Bandits' first second-round draft choice last fall, but didn't make the team. He's found a spot in Toronto for now. Nick Rose will start in goal.

I saw Troy Cordingley in the hallway before the game tonight. I asked if he had any trouble finding the visiting locker room. "It's only been four years," he said with a laugh. Cordingley used to come in here as coach of Calgary before he took the Toronto job. He won championships in both places.

6:48 p.m. - By the way, tonight's game is on Radio 930 AM. No pregame show. Tomorrow, the game is back on Radio 1520 AM. I had it wrong in the newspaper this morning, but at least got it corrected for the online edition.

7:07 p.m. - One of the best crowds I've seen up here. The lower bowl has lots of people in it. Well, it is fan appreciation night. Wonder if I'll win anything?

7:15 p.m. - Mitch Jones as the goal for the Bandits, as it's 1-1 with 5:10 gone. Jones just finished up his college hockey season and then joined the Bandits. He's looked good.

7:28 p.m. - Bandits trail, 3-2. Kasey Beirnes with a pair for Toronto.

7:34 p.m. - Brief delay while the officials sort out a scrum. It started when Steve Priolo checked Rob Marshall into the Buffalo bench, although checked might not be the right word. Lots of pushing and shoving. 

7:40 p.m. - Rock has a 5-2 lead after 15 minutes. Shots are 17-11, Toronto. The Bandits haven't been able to get their transition game going, while Toronto has gotten in good shooting position frequently.

7:52 p.m. - Bandits have turned their fortunes around at the start of the second quarter. They have tied the game at 5-5. John Tavares, Aaron Wilson and Shawn Williams have the goals. 

8:00 p.m. - Cosmo has broken the record for most saves in a season. Bandits trail, 6-5.

8:09 p.m. - And that's the way it winds up after a half. Fairly even 30 minutes, even if Buffalo never led.

8:25 p.m - Ready to go for teh second half. Toronto has a 31-24 edge in shots.

8:34 p.m. - Stephan Leblanc ends a rather dull stretch of play with a Toronto goal; it's 7-5.

8:42 p.m. - Bandits got the deficit back to two on a goal by Mark Steenhuis,

8:51 p.m. - Toronto has a 9-7 lead after three periods. Could have been closer, but Toronto won a challenge on another Steenhuis score. 

9:01 p.m. - Bandits trail, 10-7, with 9:04 left in the game. 

9:11 p.m. - Time is a factor now, as Buffalo trails, 10-8, with 4:31 to play. A six-game losing streak looms. 

9:18 p.m. - Toronto up, 12-9, with 1:15 left.

9:23 p.m. - It ends, 13-9, Toronto. Bandits have lost six in a row, matching their longest-ever losing streak (last year). 

--- 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.