Bandits again discover the road to success, 4-2 O'Neill-led win in Portland lifts away record to 13-12-4

March 10, 1996|By Mike Lowe | Mike Lowe,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

PORTLAND, Maine -- Put the Baltimore Bandits at home and they look like just another expansion team. Put them on the road and they look like contenders.

Goaltender Mike O'Neill made 33 saves, many spectacular, to lead the Bandits to a 4-2 victory over the Portland Pirates yesterday afternoon before 6,140 at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

It was Baltimore's second 4-2 win over Portland here in 22 days and lifted the Bandits to 13-12-4 on the road -- one of just three teams in the AHL with a winning record away from home.

"I don't know why, but for some reason we certainly play better on the road," said O'Neill, who has started all but three of Baltimore's games this year. "We seem more comfortable."

The victory, Baltimore's second in a row, lifted the Bandits to 25-31-8. Portland, which had won seven of its last 10, dropped to 24-32-9.

O'Neill turned this game around in the second period. After Portland tied the game at 1 on a Martin Gendron power-play goal at 5: 48 (his first of two in the game), O'Neill made some pivotal saves to regain the momentum.

With 12: 20 left in the period, Portland's Jay Mazur took a blast from the right circle that O'Neill kicked out -- right to Portland's Darren McAusland in the slot. As McAusland shot, O'Neill dove to his right and deflected the puck away.

"All I could do was a desperation move," said O'Neill, who had stopped Mazur on a breakaway with three seconds left in the first period. "So I dove and put my stick down. If the shot's off the ice, it's a goal."

About four minutes later, Denny Lambert and Peter Leboutillier scored 59 seconds apart to give Baltimore a 3-1 lead.

Lambert's goal, his eighth, came on the power play when he flipped a Don McSween rebound over goalie Ron Tugnutt at 11: 26. Leboutillier got his third goal on a breakaway at 12: 25.

Gendron scored his 33rd goal of the season with 4: 16 remaining in the game to pull Portland within a goal. But Steven King got an empty-netter, his 31st, with 21 seconds left to seal it.

"When we've had success, it's been because of the defense," said Bandits coach Walt Kyle. "We're not going to outscore many people. We need to play intelligent hockey, play good defense and get the goaltending."

Pub Date: 3/10/96

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.