I don’t know who the Rock played in Thursday night’s game, but it certainly wasn’t the Buffalo Bandits that I, as a Rock fan, know and love. You know, the undisciplined team that takes stupid penalties at key times, sometimes giving away leads and games? Yeah, those Bandits were nowhere to be seen. The ones that showed up didn’t play perfectly all night, but they played well enough to beat the top team in the league and that’s really all that counts.
I wouldn’t say the first half was “all Buffalo” but the Bandits were doing a really good job with their passing, while the Rock were a little messy with theirs. In the second quarter, the Bandits took two penalties within 11 seconds, giving the Rock a 5-on-3 for almost two full minutes. A 5-on-3 in lacrosse is almost a guaranteed goal (or more accurately, should be a guaranteed goal), but the Bandits D came up huge. The Rock couldn’t get many decent shots away and Cosmo handled the ones that managed to get through. The Bandits took a 6-5 lead into the half.
The Rock came out of halftime pretty flat, not looking like they were really in the game at all. But after one early Bandits goal, they really turned it on and went on a 5-goal run to take a 3-goal lead and seemed in control. Up by three, only fifteen minutes left – this one’s over, right? Surprisingly enough, no. The Bandits came back with 5 of their own in a little over 6 minutes to take back their two-goal lead. They traded goals after that but the the Rock just couldn’t get that one extra to tie it.
Scott Evans was a healthy scratch. Right, because we don’t need gritty tough guys when playing the Bandits. But maybe they sat him because he’s gritty and tough and therefore more likely to get involved in the physical stuff. Maybe they figured “that’s the way Buffalo plays but we want to play our game”. Turned out that’s not the way Buffalo played anyway. At one point late in the fourth (after Buffalo had their 2-goal lead back), there was some pushing and shoving after a play and I thought “Oh good! The Bandits are going to do their normal thing and lose their minds and start taking dumb penalties. Man I wish Scott Evans was out there!” But to their credit, the Bandits kept it together and continued playing disciplined, smart lacrosse.
Goaltending wasn’t really part of the story here. I didn’t think Cosmo was outstanding but was very good in the first half, particularly during that 5-on-3. Nick Rose wasn’t terrible but it certainly wasn’t one of his better games and there were a few softies which we don’t see him allow often. I think I said this last year, but if there’s one thing that I don’t like about Rose’s game it’s that he gives up too many rebounds. Far too many times during this game he’d make a great save only to give up a huge rebound and have the Bandits recover the ball for either a second shot or a fresh 30. Here’s some goaltending advice for ya Rosey: stop doing that.
Jay Thorimbert was great on the faceoffs, winning a Snider-esque 80.6%, and even scored twice on breakaways. Speaking of breakaways, the Rock had a few, actually more than a few, but I don’t think they scored on any of them.
Long story short, the Bandits played very well while the Rock played OK, except in the third when it was reversed. I don’t buy into this “they wanted it more” crap, but the Bandits just played better and deserved the win.
Other game notes:
- My friend Mike noticed that there were no moving pick calls the entire game. My other friend Steve said that this was likely because they were all moving, so if you call one, you have to call them all. Otherwise, the officiating would be inconsistent, and we can’t have that, can we?
- Jimmy Purves: dude, what’s with the thigh-high socks? Looked like he was wearing leggings.
- I don’t know if the decision to have a Thursday night game was intentional or whether that’s the only date that was left, but I think it’s safe to call that experiment a failure. The announced attendance was 8213, the lowest in Rock history.
- Fearless Fred from Edge 102 was one of the in-game hosts. I’ve never heard him on the radio, but he was less animated than I expected an afternoon radio guy to be. He didn’t add much to the experience.
- Dear Rock music guy: “Brick House” is the song they play in Buffalo for Mark Steenhuis. We should probably not play it in Toronto when playing the Bandits.
- Overheard: “There’s a lot of money in pro lacrosse. A LOT of money.” Boy, would I like to have heard more of that conversation, mainly to find out where the hell it is.