After near-miss, Bandits try again to bury Bears

April 26, 1996|By Phil Jackman | Phil Jackman,SUN STAFF

The Bandits couldn't have asked for a better deal than the one they constructed for themselves during the first two-thirds of their game against the Bears in Hershey, Pa., on Wednesday night.

The home team, already down two games in the best-of-five series, was in a quandary. The Bears just couldn't stay up with the high-flying visitors and, when they got close enough to hold, trip or otherwise impede, the resulting penalty would lead to a power-play goal by Baltimore.

The Bandits got goals from all three forward lines, they were 2-for-2 on man-advantage opportunities and the defense was doing a number on the guys who usually score the goals for Hershey.

Then, someone must have removed the overhead girders holding up the Hersheypark Arena, because the roof fell in: Five straight goals, a 5-2 lead turning into a 7-5 defeat during the last 20 minutes and 29 seconds.

Bandits coach Walt Kyle said matter-of-factly afterward, "Nothing has really changed. We have to win another game, that's it." That chance comes tonight at 7: 30, when Game 4 plays the Baltimore Arena.

It was six days ago and after his team had lost Game 2 in overtime here that Hershey coach Bill Barber vowed, "If we win at our place Wednesday, this series is going five games." If the man is true to his word, the fifth and deciding game is Sunday in Hershey at 6 p.m.

"As bad as things looked for us, we found a way to win. I admire our guys for that," Barber said after the comeback. "I'll be honest, I didn't say a word to the players during the second intermission. They knew it was up to them."

Kyle isn't a guy who seeks out the dark side of things, but it probably wouldn't surprise him if the series did go the route. "It's going to be tough. We'll go right down to the wire," he predicted, but he'd like it to be in Game 4.

It's easy to see why both coaches assume neither team is going to walk away from the other. The regular-season series ended with Hershey on top, 6-5-1, they were even in power plays (15 apiece) and shooting percentage and nearly even in goals scored, penalty minutes and tough losses.

"Hockey players let go of setbacks pretty quickly," said Kyle. "Our thinking is we had a chance to wrap it up and didn't. We have two more chances. We'll gladly take our situation."

NOTES: The AHL announced its award winners and Manny Legace of Springfield won top goaltender honors, Ken Gernander of Binghamton was named the league's best sportsman and Albany's Robbie Ftorek was cited as Coach of the Year.

Pub Date: 4/26/96

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