The Toronto Rock had trouble getting their offence started after a long holiday break.
The Rock, seeing its first action on Saturday since a win over the Philadelphia Wings on Dec. 18, only enjoyed mild success against Buffalo Bandits goaltender Matt Vinc in a 12-6 loss at Key Bank Center.
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Vinc, arguably the best goaltender in the history of the National Lacrosse League, gave Toronto no chance to get back into the game after the Bandits made a run early in the third quarter to take control for good.
The Rock were shut out in the first quarter while two Buffalo forwards began their quest for what would be a four-goal game for each.
Josh Byrne, who has become Buffalo’s most effective offensive threat, scored twice in the period.
Chase Fraser also opened his account.
Toronto’s only productive stretch came in the second quarter.
Challen Rogers scored from both transition and the offensive set.
Dan Craig took advantage of a gratuitous bounce off the back glass and Rob Hellyer made his signature cut to the front of the goal. Fraser and Ian MacKay maintained Buffalo’s advantage heading to the halftime break.
Penalties hurt the Rock early in the third and the Bandits took control.
Byrne and Dhane Smith gave Buffalo a three-goal cushion with Toronto in penalty trouble.
Then Byrne scored short-handed while Toronto was one a five-minute man advantage and Fraser added another one later.
Reid Reinholdt scored for Toronto but his side trailed 9-5 after three.
Things got heated between the two longtime rivals in the final period with some skirmishes taking place in the latter 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 lineup due to COVID-19.
Tom Schreiber was also out as he and his wife are anticipating the birth of their first child.
The Rock (2-2) return to the FirstOntario Centre next Saturday to face the Halifax Thunderbirds.
The game will be played without fans in the arena.