Bandits clinch spot in AHL playoffs Goalie O'Neill shines in 6-1 walk over Carolina

April 07, 1996|By Tom Steadman | Tom Steadman,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

GREENSBORO, N. C. -- The Baltimore Bandits came to town last night needing one win to lock up an AHL playoff berth.

The Carolina Monarchs also needed a victory to keep their dim playoff dream alive.

A couple hours later, the Bandits had a 6-1 win and their spot in the playoffs. The Monarchs, meanwhile, were still dreaming.

With nearly 7,000 fans on hand for the Monarchs' final regular-season home game, Baltimore got goals from six players and quality goaltending from Mike O'Neill to win its sixth game in the past 11.

Monarchs fans whooped it up during a huge third-period brawl, but there was little else to cheer about. Water bottles were tossed from the stands, team jerseys littered the ice and seven game misconducts were handed out.

Carolina still trails Syracuse by three points in the race for the Western Conference's final playoff berth.

"We had a lot of guys step up," said Bandits coach Walt Kyle, who played five rookie defensemen because of late-season personnel losses. Kyle's lineup worked out well -- Baltimore shut down all six Carolina power plays.

"Their bread and butter is their power play," Kyle said.

The Bandits carried a 3-1 lead into the final period, then got an insurance goal from left wing Mike Maneluk at 6: 30 for a 4-1 advantage. Three minutes later, Sean Pronger scored on a breakaway to make it 5-1. Wing Frank Banham closed out the scoring at 16: 36 of the third.

Meanwhile, O'Neill was shutting down Brad Smyth and the other Carolina offensive weapons to win his 31st game of the season.

"He was the real difference in the game," said Monarchs coach Rich Kromm.

Six minutes into the second period, center Viacheslav Butsayev gave the Bandits a 2-1 lead with a soft flip shot from the slot, off assists from line mates Denny Lambert and Jim Campbell.

Pub Date: 4/07/96

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