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Beirnes scores four as Rock defeat Bandits

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The Canadian Press
3/29/2013 9:48:37 PM
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TORONTO -- Eager to make up for a drubbing at home, the Toronto Rock closed in on the National Lacrosse League's East Title by crushing the Buffalo Bandits.

Kasey Beirnes scored four goals as the Rock hammered the Bandits 18-11 on Friday, making up for a 17-12 loss to the Edmonton Rush on Sunday.

"We rebounded from a big loss last weekend that was on our minds," said Beirnes. "We came to the rink focused with one thing in mind and that was to put the Edmonton game behind us and let's worry about what was ahead of us.

"Everyone chipped in -- offence, defence, goaltending. When we get everybody contributing, we're a tough team to stop."

Colin Doyle and Rob Hellyer scored three each, Stephan Leblanc had two and Jesse Gamble, Garrett Billings, Blaine Manning, Josh Sanderson, Bill Greer and Roger Vyse added one each for the Rock (9-4). Billings had six assists and Doyle added four.

Toronto plays in Rochester on Saturday night. A Rock win and a Philadelphia loss in Colorado would give Toronto the NLL East title and home floor to begin the playoffs.

It was 7-6 for Toronto after two quarters before Doyle scored two quick ones to start the third, touching off a run of nine consecutive Rock goals.

"I was as disappointed as everybody last weekend," said the Rock captain. "It wasn't a good feeling. I'd like to think I was more focused (Friday night). We were ready to play and that made a big difference. Hopefully we can learn from that. We've got to be ready every night or we'll get our butts whipped."

Rock goalie Nick Rose stopped 31 of the 41 shots he faced before sitting down and allowing backup Zack Boychuk to work the last three minutes.

"We came out flying in the second half," said Rose. "Our offence got us going and we rolled to the win. That was a great team effort all around."

Buffalo was also soundly beaten by Edmonton, 14-7, in its previous game but did not have the resolve to avoid a fifth consecutive defeat.

"Frustration. Frustration is our word for the season," said coach Darris Kilgour. "We've got to compete at a higher level."

Buffalo had won 15-13 in Toronto back on Feb. 28. The Bandits weren't nearly as good this time.

"We lose focus for four or five minutes and we're down by six and guys go 'That's enough, I don't want anymore.' We didn't battle hard enough," said Kilgour. "We didn't fight through our own problems we caused ourselves. We accepted excuses instead of fighting through them. That's what happens when you lay down for a team like Toronto."

John Tavares, Glen Bryan and Dhane Smith scored two each and Kevin Brownell, Mark Steenhuis, Glen Bryan, Derek Hopcroft, Mike Hominuck and Shawn Williams had one apiece for the Bandits (5-8).

Doyle touched off a 7-0 Rock third quarter by scoring 18 seconds in. He added his second in a row two minutes later when he froze goalie Anthony Cosmo with a fake and flicked the ball over the goalie's left shoulder into the top corner of the net.

It was classic Doyle. He's No. 2 on the all-time points list for a reason.

"The countless times he does things like that," said coach Troy Cordingley. "He's the leader of the team. Once he got those two goals you could just feel the energy on the bench. The guys just fed off of it."

Hellyer and Beirnes scored early in the fourth to make it 16-6 before Tavares finally ended Buffalo's stretch of futility.

The final shots tally was 53-45 in Toronto's favour.

"The will to win was there," said Cordingley. "We won a lot of little battles and that's why we were successful."

Cordingley made lineup changes in wake of the loss to the Rush. Hellyer got back in after sitting three as a healthy scratch, defenceman Mike Hobbins returned from a one-game benching, and Vyse made his Rock debut. All were contributors Friday.

"That gave me a little more purpose to play with," Hobbins said of being benched. "It puts a little fire under your butt. It felt great to contribute to the win."

Vyse hadn't played an NLL game in nearly a year. He was released by the Bandits just before the start of the 2013 season.

"It was a great opportunity for me to step in and help the team get a big win," said Vyse. "It's a great feeling to be back in the NLL. This is the greatest league around. I'm just glad I can come here and contribute."

Notes: Attendance at Air Canada Centre was 11,546. ... Toronto was 4 for 9 on the power play, while Buffalo was 1 for 4 . . . Buffalo lost a second regular-season game to Toronto for the first time since 2008 . . . Toronto now is 6-1 when leading at halftime. Buffalo is 1-6 when trailing at halftime . . . Toronto deleted F Scott Evans, D Damon Edwards and D Kyle Belton . . . Buffalo scratched F Jamie Rooney, T Hayden Smith and D Mike McNamara. Luke Wiles came off the practice roster to take the place of Chad Culp (shoulder), who is likely out for the remainder of the season . . . Buffalo is at Minnesota next Saturday.

Toronto Rock (Photo: NLL)

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(Photo: NLL)
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