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Live from the Air Canada Centre: Bandits vs. Rock

6:39 p.m. -- Road trip.

The Bandits are back on the road for the third time in four games, as they play they Rock in Toronto. The two teams played a classic last week, as Buffalo won in overtime after blowing a big lead in the fourth quarter. It looks like we have a pretty good crowd tonight; one of the ushers thought it might rank as one of the top nights of the season.

This is becoming a rather mixed-up season, and we're not even out of January. Philadelphia, everyone's pick to be the East doormat, beat Boston, a possible title contender, Friday night. So the Blazers are in last place in the East.

7:00 p.m. - Scratches for Buffalo are the same as last week -- Ian Llord, Travis Irving and Darryl Gibson.

Based on the opening introductions, the Rock hasn't turned down the volume in its p.a. announcements. Aspirin all around. And it's a very odd ticket distribution here, as the fans are really scattered around the building.

7:11 p.m. -- One surprise already - Angus Goodleaf is the starting goalie. And we've already had a couple of fights less than two minutes in.

7:15 p.m. -- Each team has had a player ejected (Frank Resetarits for Buffalo), and then peace lasted about seven seconds before more hostilities broke out. It's going to be a long night at this rate.

7:18 p.m. - Brandon Francis of the Bandits has been excused for the evening.

7:24 p.m. -- With the score 1-0, Toronto, Tom Montour drew a penalty when he charged to the net ... and prompted another scrum. I see six Bandits in the penalty box. There are four Rock players similarly imprisoned. I assume Toronto's goalie, Bob Watson, picked up something for his trouble as he was throwing punches.

These two teams had a famous preseason game that had to be cancelled in the third quarter because all of the outbursts. Those were all rookies and tryout candidates though. What's the excuse here?

7:30 p.m. -- The officials are still sorting out the penalties. Good luck.

7:34 p.m. -- The Bandits have a 4-on-3 power play. I have no idea why. But Steve Priolo and Brenden Thenhaus have been excused for the night as well, at least according to the announcement.

7:39 p.m. -- The first half of the first period is over. I counted seven Toronto guys in the penalty box until a few were "set free." Toronto still leads, 10.  At this rate, the game will be done about midnight, and the coaching staffs will fill out the rosters.

7:50 p.m. -- Thenhaus just took a shot on goal, which probably means there was an error made on the announcement of a game misconduct. Of course, I'm not too sure about anything. But at least the penalty boxes are about empty.

7:54 p.m. -- We're done with a quarter, finally. Toronto had a 2-1 lead, with Brett Bucktooth getting the lone Buffalo goal. There was a little more flow to the final minutes of the period.

8:01 p.m. -- By the way, the media guide doesn't have a team record for penalty minutes in a game.

8:08 p.m. -- We're still at 2-1 with 8:13 to play in the half. Buffalo had 70 penalty minutes in the first quarter, while Toronto had 62. It's almost amazing that there has only been one power-play goal so far, the one by Bucktooth.'

8:17 p.m. -- The Rock has a 3-1 lead now, as Blaine Manning scored. Buffalo has had some shots on goal but few really great chances.

8:24 p.m. -- And that's the way it winds up after 30 minutes: 3-1, Toronto.

8;42 p.m. -- We're underway in the second half. The Bandits were a little slow coming out for the half. Think Darris Kilgour had something to say about the offense?

8:50 p.m. -- The Bandits have not shown an signs of offensive life so far in the second half. Meanwhile, Toronto has two goals to make it 5-1 with nine minutes to go in the third quarter.

8:58 p.m. -- Colin Doyle scored the goal of the year for Toronto. With his back to the goal and Clay Hill draped on him, Doyle flipped a no-look shot past Goodleaf for the score. Very impressive. It's 6-1 with 3:20 left in the third quarter, and the Bandits' offense continues to make too many mistakes to generate many chances.

9:03 p.m. -- Found it. The previous Bandits record for most penalty minutes in a game was 64. They went past that in the first quarter. We're done with 45 minutes.

9:15 p.m. -- The Bandits have a power-play advantage, and after a Roger Vyse goal (making it 6-2) could at least make things interesting with a goal here.

9:21 p.m. -- It's more than interesting, thanks to Chad Culp and Mark Steenhuis. Buffalo had cut the lead to 6-4.

9:28 p.m. -- The Bandits' record for PIM by both teams combined in a game has falled. A Clay Hill slash has run the total to 154, one more than the 2009 game between Buffalo and Portland produced. We're still at 6-4 with 4:39 left.

9:37 p.m. -- 7-5 Toronto with a minute to go. But with 17.9 seconds left, Doyle ends the suspense with an empty-netter. We're done for the night with a 8-5 Toronto win.

--- Budd Bailey

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