Kyle looks for Bandits to step up Team faces Bears tonight in deciding fifth game

April 28, 1996|By Phil Jackman | Phil Jackman,SUN STAFF

HERSHEY, Pa. -- Some sort of consistency. After 86 games, countless practices and a training camp way back when, Bandits coach Walt Kyle doesn't think that's too much to expect from his squad as it enters a do-or-disappear game against the Hershey Bears this evening.

All season Kyle has preached that all hands doing their jobs, nothing more or nothing less, ultimately would lead to success. In other words, scorers score, defensemen play responsibly and everyone contributes while cutting down on mistakes and playing the game intelligently.

One of the "problems" while winning the first two games and assuming a three-goal lead in Game 3 of the best-of-five, first-round AHL playoff series with Hershey is, when things started going the Bears' way, which was inevitable, recriminations might be forthcoming.

Kyle was cool when Game 3 slipped away in Hershey, perhaps because the Bears played so well during their comeback. The 4-2 loss at the Baltimore Arena on Friday night was a bit too much for the coach to bear, however.

Too many players could have been arrested and booked for vagrancy, such were their efforts. Kyle cited forwards Jim Campbell, Slava Butsayev and Denny Lambert and lead defensemen Oleg Mikulchik and Nikolai Tsulygin as "guys who have to step up or we're cooked."

There were others who had unproductive games, but they don't fall into the category of being expected to turn in good games every time out. Some don't have the skill and/or experience. The players the coach does accord "special mention" do.

After losing the first two games and falling far behind in the third, Hershey coach Bill Barber said he never lost faith that his team would somehow come back. "After we lost the game in overtime [in Baltimore], I thought these teams are too evenly matched for one to sweep the other. I firmly believed if we could win [Game 3] at home, the series would go the limit."

Barber made it sound as if home ice, Hersheypark Arena, wasn't necessarily an advantage for his team. Late in the season, loyal Bears fans were turning on the team as its departure for Philadelphia drew near.

"That and all the other things we've battled are things people don't even know about. We have a player [Yanick Dupre] fighting for his life [leukemia]; he's been a good friend to a lot of our guys for a long time. We lost one of our leaders, Jim Montgomery [who since has returned]. We've got a very skilled player [Patrik Juhlin] out with a broken ankle. [Tough defenseman] Dan Kordic is up with Philly. He's a huge presence on the ice. These things are all part of the game, but I think we're still the underdog [today]."

He might be right, as only 2,874 and 2,888 have showed up at games in Hershey and the fans certainly haven't provided a "seventh man" boost for the home team as in days past.

Pub Date: 4/28/96

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