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Bandits' live blog - live from the Air Canada Centre

6:43 p.m. -- Good evening from Toronto. The Bandits reach the halfway point of the season with yet another game against the Toronto Rock (this is number three out of eight). I'll be here to keep you posted on the game, and feel free to drop a comment or question in the space provided. You can watch the game through the site.

Pat McCready did take part in the pregame warmup tonight. So it looks like he should be ready for his season debut tonight. He's been out with an injury.

6:53 p.m. -- McCready is indeed playing tonight. The scratches include Delby Powless, Rich Kilgour, Brandon Swamp, Cody Jacobs and Kyle Schmelzle.

7:08 p.m. -- Sounds like some Bandits fans made the trip up for the game. Of course, it is easy for them to stand out. The arena is about a quarter full right now, as the Rock's losing ways lately has taken a toll. I was listening to sports radio on the way up, and the Rock's game tonight didn't even get a sentence on the sportscast. Plenty about that trade between the Islandes and Senators, though.

7:17 p.m. -- The Bandits are off to their worst start of the season, falling behind by a 3-0 count and leading to a timeout. Perhaps Buffalo is distracted by the Rock's new "third jerseys." They are pink and blue, although that doesn't begin to describe them. "Busy" doesn't either. Be sure to take a look at them when you get the chance. If you dare.

7:26 p.m. -- When people ask me how the sport is played, I tell them it's a cross between basketball and hockey in some ways. John Tavares and Sean Greenhalgh just demonstrated the basketball part. They ran a give-and-go play that John Stockton and Karl Malone would have been proud to perform. Toronto now up 4-3.

7:38 p.m. -- Toronto played a solid first period in taking a 6-4 lead. Goalie Mike Thompson didn't get a great deal of help, as the Rock has split the Buffalo defense frequently to get good shots.

7:51 p.m. -- The Rock has jumped out to an 8-4 lead with 9:26 to go in the half, and Bandits coach Darris Kilgour has decided he needs a bit of a team shake-up. So he's sent Ken Montour into goal to replace Thompson. The shots are 22-11, Toronto, so no one is blaming Thompson too much for this sort of start.

8:36 p.m. -- Different half, different Bandits team. Buffalo scored three straight goals to open the second half, and it is back in the game at 11-8. Most of the shots have been from long range; we'll see if the Bandits keep trying that.

8:48 p.m. -- Tavares has four goals in the third quarter alone. It's always good to have the greatest scorer in the sport's history around when things aren't going well. Toronto's lead is down to 12-11.

8:58 p.m. -- Looks like we've got a chance for a great finish. The Bandits actually tied the score at 12-12, but gave up the last two goals of the period to fall behind, 14-12, after 45 minutes. Luke Wiles had three goals of his own for Toronto in the third quarter.

9:16 p.m. -- The Bandits are down two, 16-14, with 4:54 left. Tavares is only one away from the team record for goals in a game, while Steenhuis has five of his own. But Toronto has done a good job on the rest of the Bandit offense. This is the time when the game turns into a chess match of sorts, and we'll see how the teams handle it.

9:22 p.m. -- 37 seconds left, and the Bandits are down a goal ... and Steenhuis drills it to tie it. It's number seven on the night.

9:26 p.m. -- The Bandits defend nicely in the final 19 seconds ... and we go to overtime. It's the first time Buffalo has needed extra time this season.

9:30 p.m. -- Steenhuis beats Watson at 46 seconds, and just like that it's over. Steenhuis finished with eight goals on the night, setting a team record.

The next day -- The Bandits finished the first half of the season at 7-1. While they have won games in all sorts of ways, it could be argued that by missing New York and Boston they haven't played the best the East has to offer. So it remains to be seen just how good Buffalo is.

But on the other hand, it's tough to believe the Bandits won't get a huge boost from the thrilling win against Toronto on Friday. Down six goals at the half? Down a goal in the final minute? No problem. These guys do figure out a way to win.

--- Budd Bailey

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