Bandits come up empty, fall to Falcons Springfield defense delivers 1-0 defeat

January 25, 1996|By Phil Jackman | Phil Jackman,SUN STAFF

The game was still young and fresh when Michal Grosek of the Springfield Falcons came into the Bandits' zone on the left and checked out his options. He looked right and saw Ravil Gusmanov streaking in on the opposite side and, in the bat of an eye, he rifled a pass onto his stick.

The way the Northern Division Falcons play defense and with their goaltending, the resulting goal, Gusmanov's 26th, was all Springfield needed to subdue the Bandits, 1-0.

One-zip, that's not a score you hear about very often in the free-wheeling AHL, except when Springfield is playing. Scott Langlow got the shutout, his first and the team's sixth in 48 games.

"I guess we've had as many injuries as anyone," said Springfield coach Kevin McCarthy. "But we were fortunate to get off to a good start and the players all along have expected to win. That's half the battle."

While the Falcons were running their record to 27-16-5 and moving up to a league-leading 62 points, the Bandits were stretching their scoreless streak to an alarming number: 110 minutes, 50 seconds.

That goes all the way back to Tuesday night in Carolina when they scored the first four goals of a game against the Monarchs in the first 11:10, then went scoreless all the way through an overtime loss, 5-4.

"We didn't play that badly against Carolina," said Bandits coach Walt Kyle. "We played excellent defense, but they just kept chipping away."

After starting three dozen games in goal in succession, Mike O'Neill wasn't in net for Baltimore last night, but Kyle said it wasn't for anything that occurred in the Carolina game.

"Clearly, it was time to give Mike a rest after we lost like that and then had to take a long bus ride back," Kyle said. "Besides, we wanted him ready to go this weekend when we play division games against Hershey.

The situation might have been a blessing in disguise in that rookie backup Byron Penstock got a chance to play for the first time in six weeks and he performed admirably.

It's not like Springfield crawled into a defensive shell when it scored at 6:37 of the first period, but, as the coach said, "we reminded the players constantly not to take any chances as we could see Baltimore was laying back looking for quick turnovers in the neutral zone."

As a result of their caution, the Falcons gave up just one odd-man rush all evening. At the same time, the Bandits were turning in a solid defensive effort, too, so neither goalie had to make too many tough saves.

The Bandits are now winless in five games (0-3-2) with games at Hershey Saturday and against Hershey Sunday (1 p.m.).

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