BUFFALO - Garrett Billings had a game to remember last night.
The Toronto Rock forward had a hand in all 15 goals in the team’s 15-9 win over the Buffalo Bandits.
In fact it was a fruitful night for all the offensive staff, including Colin Doyle and Stephan Leblanc. But it will be the four-goal, 11-assist performance by Billings that stood out.
And with some solid defence and goaltending from Nick Rose mixed in, the team showed the good-sized crowd at the First Niagara Centre that it is far from the team that was dominated by Buffalo a couple of weeks ago.
The tempo of the game was quick from the start and the Rock took control almost immediately, creating turnovers and winning a fair share of loose balls. Billings opened the scoring three minutes in.
After Mat Giles tied it, the Rock benefitted from a sloppy clearance in front of the Buffalo goal, credited to Dan Carey, to make it 2-1. Stephan Leblanc and John Tavares traded goals before Colin Doyle scored on a lovely scoop shot from behind the net to give the Rock a 4-2 lead.
The Rock controlled much of the play in the second as well but it was even scoring-wise. Tavares and Scott Self scored a minute apart, then Billings and Brendan Thenhaus restored the two-goal lead.
Brandon Francis and Kasey Beirnes traded the final two goals to keep it a two-goal margin at 7-5.
Leblanc added his second after the break but Mark Steenhuis kept the margin to two. The Rock was also getting it done defensively, successfully killing a major penalty. Thenhaus added his second to make it 9-6 after three quarters.
Tavares added his third of the game and Tom Montour scored to bring the Bandits closer early in the final period. But then the Rock put it into overdrive.
Billings added two more goals. Doyle, Leblanc, and Carey closed the scoring for Toronto (6-6). Tavares added a fourth goal at the end. Billings tried to spread the accolades
“It’s a credit to our whole offence,” he said. “We finally have some luck with the ball bouncing our way. It’s nice to get our offence clicking like that.”
“Garrett’s been our best player all year,” head coach Troy Cordingley said. “He’s magical. He sees the floor so well. He has a great shot. And he’s a calming presence out there.”
The Rock return to action next Saturday at the Air Canada Centre against the Edmonton Rush.