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Photo Courtesy Ian Cherico (Big Z Lacrosse Network)
Posted: Saturday, 01 February 2014 9:49PM

Bandits win fifth-straight; beat Rock 12-10

The Buffalo Bandits defeated the Toronto Rock on Saturday night 12-10 for their fifth win in a row.  It's their first win streak of five or more games since 2009.

Mark Steenhuis scored four times for his first four-goal performance since March 16, 2012. Ryan Benesch registered a hat trick and Dhane Smith added five assists.  Anthony Cosmo continued his hot play with 39 saves on 49 shots and stopped a penalty shot attempt.

The rivalry between the cross border opponents was heated as the teams combined for 83 penalty minutes during a closely played affair.  Buffalo held a slim 7-5 lead at halftime, but Toronto came out in the third quarter with three goals in the first 2:22 to take the lead.

Over ten minutes passed until the next goal was scored when Chad Culp tied the game.  David Brock gave the Bandits the lead back when he marched down the field in transition, bounced off a check from Rock defender Damon Edwards, and put the ball over the shoulder of goalie Nick Rose. 

The fourth quarter started with John Tavares taking a rare five-minute major penalty for cross checking.  Buffalo nearly killed the entire penalty but gave up a goal to Kasey Beirnes to tie the game once again.

Steenhuis led the response for Buffalo as he scored the final go ahead goal of the game shortly after Tavares exited the penalty box.  Ryan Benesch and Steenhuis scored back-to-back goals late in the quarter to cement the victory.

The Bandits improve to 5-1 and continue to lead the NLL East Division.  They travel to Rochester next Saturday to face the Knighthawks.

The win was extra special for the Bandits organization as it came on the eighth birthday of Shawn Williams's son, Tucker, who is currently in a Toronto hospital receiving treatment for lymphoma.  During a stoppage in play the First Niagara Center crowd sung "Happy Birthday" to Tucker as he watched via Face Time on an iPad. The team will be selling t-shirts with the phrase "Braver than brave" on them to help the Williams family.

Check the On-Demand Audio Vault for postgame interviews with head coach Troy Cordingley and Bandits players.