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Live Bandits' blog from HSBC Arena

7:08 p.m. -- Greetings from the arena, where the Bandits are about set to take on the Toronto Rock. These teams have already played each other once, and will play once again in Toronto on Friday night. So that will be three times in eight games. We'll get to New York and Boston in the East eventually, I guess, but it is an odd quirk.

Looks like we'll have an excellent crowd for this one, and the ones in their seats right now are taking a look at the Bandits' new third jersey during warm-up. It's orange with a black stripe, which on the front as a bandit's eyes and nose along the lines of their logo. It's a little odd to see a couple of eyes staring back at you, but it might be quite distracting to opponents. We'll see tonight.

The lineups have just been handed out. Roger Vyse and Ian Llord are back from injuries. Some of the scratches are Brandon Swamp, and Kyle Schmelzle.

The game is on, so feel free to watch along with me. I can read your comments as the game goes along.

7:33 p.m. -- The Bandits had a moment of silence for those lost in Thursday night's plane crash in Clarence Center. As someone who spent 14 years in Clarence, my thoughts are with all of those affected.

7:40 p.m. -- We've got one of those odd situations that has come up in the television era. A Toronto goal was waived off for a crease violation. Cory Bomberry came down the other way and scored on a delayed penalty. The Rock challenged the original crease violation call, which would have wiped out the Buffalo goal and turned the clock back had it been upheld. However, the replay was inconclusive, the original call stood, and the Bandits took a 1-0 lead.

7:49 p.m. -- The Bandits sure know how to get off to good starts. They scored three goals in the first 4:48 to take a 3-0 lead. That chased Rock goalie Bob Watson, who was replaced by Mike Attwood. Toronto responded with two quick goals to get back in the game.

8:04 p.m. -- John Tavares teamed up with Mark Steenhuis for a spectacular play to end the first quarter's scoring. Tavares cut to the net, took a pass at the doorstep and stuffed it home without stepping into the crease. It gave Buffalo a 6-3 lead after 15 minutes.

8:13 p.m. -- Roger Vyse has cashed in his second goal of the night to make it 8-3. Exit, Attwood, enter Watson in Toronto's goal. Could be a long night for those keeping track of goalie statistics.

8:33 p.m. -- The Bandits turned up the offense in the second quarter, as Vyse ran his total to three goals and Tavares has two. Buffalo had an impressive 20 shots in the quarter in taking a 12-5 lead at the half. It will take quite a turnaround for Toronto to get back in this game.

8:57 p.m. -- The two teams have quieted down offensively so far in the second half, but a look at the stat sheet at halftime revealing something very impressive: Steenhuis had seven assists in the first 30 minutes. The team doesn't keep records for assists in a half, but 10 is the record for a game. You gotta think he has a shot.

9:09 p.m. --- Mr. Steenhuis seems to be on something of a roll. He scored two goals in less than 90 seconds, and then added an assist (400th of his career). This one is 16-7, and the Rock changed goalies again. Curtis Joseph ought to be here any minute now.

9:18 p.m. - The Bandits finish three quarters with a 19-7 lead, and it's fair to say the near sellout crowd is enjoying the show. Steenhuis has 14 points in 45 minutes to tie the team record, and Vyse has five goals.

9:40 p.m. -- Steenhuis has the assist and points records all to himself now, as he helped on a Tavares goal. It's 22-9, Bandits, with eight minutes left. I think Buffalo can win this one without me, so I'll check in after the game and do some typing in the meantime for the newspaper.

11:15 p.m. -- Sure enough, the Bandits won this one, 25-10, in most impressive fashion. Steenhuis finished with four goals and 13 assists for 17 points to set league records in both categories, and Vyse had six goals (one short of the team mark). One question that came up after the game was something along the lines of "Do you really want to beat these guys so badly when you play them again on Friday?" Everyone answered "yes."

"There's no feeling sorry for them out on the floor," Steenhuis said. "If it was the flip side and they were doing it to us, they wouldn't stop. ... You just keep on playing."

And what's more, help is on the way for the Bandits. Pat McCready, a Bandit since 2002, will practice with the team on Tuesday night and should be ready to go for Toronto on Friday.

So as the carpet is taken away from the floor below me, it's time to say good night from high above HSBC Arena.

--- Budd Bailey

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