'Plug Line' puts spark in Bandits' 6-3 victory Win over Fredericton is 4th in 7 home games

November 18, 1995|By Phil Jackman | Phil Jackman,SUN STAFF

For want of a better name, call it the Plug Line, J. F. Jomphe centering wings Mike Maneluk and Dwayne Norris. This trio of hustlers had another big night, scoring a couple of goals and picking up three assists as the Bandits beat the Fredericton Canadiens, 6-3, last night in an American Hockey League game at the Baltimore Arena.

Playing on the power play, as penalty killers, on regular shifts and long shifts, the Pluggers never let up, much to the delight of the 4,562 fans.

It was the Bandits' fourth win at home in seven tries, hinting again that the team is a Jekyll-and-Hyde operation because its road record is 0-7-2.

Since coach Walt Kyle put the Plug Line together with the arrival of Norris three games ago, it has eight goals and 11 assists.

Maneluk was the biggest producer last night, knocking in both goals by the line. Jomphe and Norris were there assisting all the way, however.

"Thing is, we're very similar players," said Maneluk addressing his line's success so far. "I've played with JJ [Jomphe] for a while, but Dwayne came in and it's like looking in a mirror.

"Usually, JJ's the first guy back [in the defensive end], but when he isn't, one of us will move back quickly and we just take each other's spots."

The goal that put it away, the fourth, was an unassisted effort by Maneluk, who started out merely looking to make a play as he approached the blue line.

"I thought about going wide and the defenseman read it that way, so I just faked that way, stayed inside and had a clear path to the net," he said. The score was up over the glove.

"These guys have really come around, and you can see the catalyst is Norris," said Kyle. "Every line has to have a catalyst and Mike and JJ fit in so well with him."

While pleased that the Pluggers have cured earlier scoring problems, the coach had big praise for the Sean Pronger-Steve King-Jeremy Stevenson line, which, he said, "we put against the other team's top line."

Last night it was the Fredericton trio featuring center Jim Campbell, who came to town with 16 goals in 16 games, including a hat trick in Hershey two nights before. Campbell got just two shots and was kept out of the scoring column.

Also cited for yeoman work on the back line was veteran Doug Crossman, who, together with assistant Mike Gibbons, has been molding the back-liners into three fairly solid duos. Crossman also had a goal, sneaking in from the blue line to pump in a rebound on a Bandit power play.

"With a lot of games coming up quickly now," said Maneluk, "we're really starting to get our conditioning. If some of the guys didn't know it before, they know how important it is now."

Neither goalie, Mike O'Neill of the Bandits and Patrick Labrecque of the Canadiens, had a bad night, although with seven goals rattling home in 20 minutes of playing time in mid-game it sounds like it. In fact, the skating, the play-making and the hustle in front of the cages were that good.

The Canadiens were able to muster just four shots in the third period while the Bandits hammered 13 at their goal. Baltimore's Stevenson scored into an empty net with 20 seconds remaining to make it sound more one-sided than it was.

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