Benesch's Seven Goals Lifts Buffalo in NLL Playoffs
TORONTO - The Buffalo Bandits snapped an
eight-game losing streak when it mattered most by defeating the
Toronto Rock in the first round of the playoffs with a 15-13 road
win before a crowd of 7,867 at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday
night. Buffalo has advanced to the East Division Finals against the
back-to-back NLL defending champion Rochester Knighthawks.
Bandits forward Ryan Benesch put up ten points (7+3) in winning effort – the teams' first in nine games – to help lift Buffalo past the Rock earning them a series against the Rochester Knighthawks for the East Division crown. Buffalo's Andrew Watt opened the game's scoring 3:31 after the opening whistle.
Both teams traded chances before Rock captain Colin Doyle broke a 4:59 silence to tie things up at one goal a piece. Buffalo answered strongly by going on a 3-0 run, which included goals from Benesch (2) and Shawn Williams.
With under a minute remaining in the quarter, Kasey Beirnes scored in the slot pulling the Rock within a 4-2 score heading into the second frame. Buffalo forwards Mark Steenhuis and Jamie Rooney sandwiched a Josh Sanderson goal to go ahead 6-3 just under five minutes into the second frame.
Toronto climbed back by scoring three straight goals, two of which from the stick of Doyle who completed one of two hat tricks in the half. The other was earned by Benesch who scored his third and fourth tallies of the night as part of a 2-1 mini run to close the quarter.
Buffalo led 8-7 at halftime but Toronto took their first lead of the night after Beirnes and Josh Sanderson each scored early in the second half. Benesch, 4:20 after the Sanderson goal, tied the game at nine goals a piece.
Rock rookie Nick Diachenko put Toronto back on top at the 12:27 mark only to be quickly answered by Benesch's sixth tally of the night. Buffalo captain John Tavares broke a 10-10 tie just 33 seconds into the final frame. The goal was part of what eventually became a 5-3 Buffalo run over the fourth frame.
Benesch led all shooters with ten points (7+3) on the night. Steenhuis, not far behind, followed up with six points (1+5) in the victory. Doyle led the way for the Rock scoring eight points (3+5) in the losing effort. Hellyer followed up with seven points (1+6).
Buffalo goalie Anthony Cosmo earned the win in goal snapping an 0-7 career playoff drought while Toronto netminder Brandon Miller fell to 0-4 all-time in the postseason.
Three Stars of the Game as selected by the media:
1) Ryan Benesch
2) Kasey Beirnes
3) Anthony Cosmo
Buffalo Bandits will play East Division Finals against Rochester Knighthawks starting in Buffalo with Game One at First Niagara Center on Saturday, May 10 at 7:30 p.m. ET. The series moves to Rochester for Game Two on Saturday, May 17 at 7:30 p.m. ET.
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