Bandits get a break in more ways than one Schedule and additions to the team boost hopes

November 02, 1995|By Phil Jackman | Phil Jackman,SUN STAFF

Next to a long win streak, hockey and basketball coaches will tell you the thing they desire most during a season is the practice time provided by a lull in the schedule.

After nearly four weeks of the AHL season, Baltimore Bandits coach Walt Kyle has his wish. The team has a game tomorrow night against St. John at the Baltimore Arena, but then won't play again until Nov. 10 in Providence. And after that, it won't play until Nov. 15 at home against Carolina.

That's three games over 16 days, with just one bus trip tossed in. And the team is coming off a victory (over Prince Edward Island, 6-4, Tuesday night), it has two new defensemen ready to go and a favorable home schedule just ahead.

Good grief, could that be light at the end of the tunnel as opposed to a fast-approaching locomotive?

"First off, we've got to raise our conditioning level," Kyle said, unfurling a long wish list. The players noticed yesterday, as they went through a spirited and intense workout.

"I don't believe in pouring it on a team just because it might be going through a dry stretch. The guys feel bad enough losing," said Kyle.

"Coming off a good game, it's natural to want to go out and play as quickly as you can, but we've got a lot of work to do and it's good to have the time to do it."

NFL teams have 54 days to prepare for a season. Baseball training camps last 46 days, NBA camps 28 and NHL camps 26. The Bandits and most of their AHL brethren had a long weekend -- if they were lucky.

Besides working on offensive patterns, the power play, defensive setups and clearing the puck out of their end, the Bandits will be engaging in loads of one-on-one and two-on-two drills. They had a taste yesterday and one routine actually led to a scuffle. But no life-threatening injuries were reported.

"We kept our discipline nearly all the way through the win [Tuesday]," said Kyle. "One thing was disappointing at the end, though. Mike O'Neill's been working his butt off in goal all along and, instead of ending up with a three-goals-against game, we put him in a 5-on-3 situation and [PEI] got a fourth goal."

Defensemen Doug Crossman, signed as a free agent, and Bobby Marshall, who came in a trade with St. John for wing Jarrod Skalde, will be in uniform tomorrow.

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