O'Neill gets a break but Hershey doesn't, 5-3 Bandits triumph as goalie is honored, then rested

April 11, 1996|By Phil Jackman | Phil Jackman,SUN STAFF

On a night when Mike O'Neill was being celebrated for playing in his league record 73rd game, the iron-man goaltender wasn't around to pick up the victory as the Bandits were doing in the Hershey Bears, 5-3.

No problem. After all, O'Neill had picked up each and every one of the team's 31 victories up to last night's final home game.

"Ironic isn't it, being the only other guy to pick up a win for the team, especially under these circumstances?" asked Mike Torchia, who turned away 33 of 35 pucks sent his way over the final two periods. He is 1-0-1 in three Bandits appearances.

Coach Walt Kyle said it was Torchia's best showing and that he'll be in goal in two of the team's three remaining (road) games.

"Mike O'Neill will get the game he wants, probably Binghamton because I don't want to use him in Hershey Saturday night," said Kyle. Torchia smiled at the prospect of playing two games in five days. He has played just 14 games in the ECHL this season.

If some of the old fire and brimstone of Baltimore-Hershey games of yore was missing since the Bandits came along, some of the principles did all they could to correct the situation.

There were scrums hither and yon all evening and Hershey even went so far as playing the game under protest because of a four-minute delay at the start as O'Neill was cited for his achievement.

Earlier, at a Sunday game here, Bears coach Bill Barber went into a snit and his team drew a penalty for not returning to the ice on time after what he said was an excessively long between-periods promotion. The league looked into it and told Barber his watch needed repair.

"I'm going to hate this last week," said Kyle of the remaining, meaningless games. "Absolutely nothing good can come out of it."

NOTES: The Bandits drew 144,044 for 40 home dates, an average of 3,601, 14th in the 18-team AHL. . . . The team finishes in Binghamton tomorrow, Hershey on Saturday and Rochester on Tuesday. Then it's on to Game 1 of the best-of-five series against the Bears in Hershey a week from tomorrow . . . . Bandits left wing Jeremy Stevenson was suspended for last night's game as the result of being tossed out of back-to-back games against Carolina last weekend.

Pub Date: 4/11/96

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