The top two teams in the East Division secured wins last night to strengthen their positions in the standings, pulling away just a little further from the rest of the pack. The first-place Buffalo Bandits led start to finish–although things got pretty tight for a while–in a 12-9 win over the Colorado Mammoth that improved their record to 8-2. The Rochester Knighthawks (8-3) kept pace half a game behind the Bandits by riding an 8-1 third quarter to a season series sweep of the Toronto Rock, taking the game going away 17-12.
The Rock started well, riding a first-half hat trick from Colin Doyle to leads of 6-3 after the first quarter and 9-5 heading into the intermission. Only one of those goals, though, came against Angus Goodleaf, who replaced starter Matt Vinc in the Rochester net and was played a very solid game to pick up his second career win.
The Knighthawks got a breakaway goal from Brad Self in the final minute of the first half to gain some momentum. Then they came out and dominated the rest of the way. Cody Jamieson went on a tear to open the second half, scoring all 4 of his goals in the first 5:31 with a variety of shots. Jamieson wasn’t the only Knighthawk finding his range, though. Cory Vitarelli had a hat trick while Joe Walters, Joel McCready, Stephen Keogh and Johnny Powless–celebrating his 21st birthday–each scored twice. The Rochester sniping led to a game of musical goalies for the Rock, but neither Nick Rose nor newly signed Steve Fryer could put a stop to the Rochester run.
Meanwhile, the Rochester defence and Goodleaf put the clamps on the Toronto offence, limiting their chances and allowing only Billings’ hat trick marker in the third then a pair of meaningless goals late in the fourth when the outcome was no longer in doubt.
In Buffalo, Mark Steenhuis continued the roll he’s been on of late, scoring 3 goals and 3 assists to lead the Bandits to the victory that gives them two more wins than they managed all of last season. Buffalo scored the only 2 goals of the first quarter and extended their lead to 5-0 before the Mammoth were able to beat Anthony Cosmo, who made 45 saves to earn the win.
Colorado battled back and a pair of John Grant Jr. power play goals (he had three in the game and four total goals) tied the scored at 7-7 late in the third quarter. Fellow legend John Tavares, though, scored 42 seconds later, just before the quarter expired, to give the Bandits a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
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