Bandits oust Bears in OT Maneluk's 'fluky' goal delivers 4-3 victory

Syracuse is next

April 29, 1996|By Phil Jackman | Phil Jackman,SUN STAFF

HERSHEY, Pa. -- Of course it went overtime, the fifth and deciding playoff game between the fierce rivals, the Bandits and Hershey Bears.

Down two goals midway through regulation, Baltimore, which has played inspired hockey all season at Hersheypark Arena, dominated play while tying matters, and probably should have won in three periods.

But putting aside their disappointment, the Bandits kept pressing and, 4: 14 into the extra session, Mike Maneluk put the puck in the net for a 4-3 victory.

Next up, the Syracuse Crunch in the American Hockey League's best-of-seven Southern Division finals.

"It was a fluky goal," said Hershey goalie Tim Cheveldae, who once again had a fine game.

Fluky, in this case, was Maneluk gathering up the puck behind the goal, moving to his right and "just trying to get the puck out front. I think it went in off a defenseman's knee."

"Not so," said Cheveldae. "I felt it hit the back of my calf."

With just 1: 55 remaining in regulation, Maneluk, who has made a living against the Bears this season, was standing in front of the Hershey goal when a shot was rifled out of the corner.

It ended up in the net, but the goal was disallowed because Maneluk was called for directing the puck into the net.

"My stick was tied up, so I just tried to stop the puck while working to get my stick down on it. I guess maybe my foot did move toward the net some," he said.

Bandits coach Walt Kyle said: "Composure, that's what it was all about throughout the series. Up two games, we blow a three-goal lead and lose. We hang in. We fall behind 3-0 and almost come back to win. We hang in. We're behind 3-1 this time, but we just kept plugging. These guys are men, and they played like men tonight."

"I said all along that this was a good hockey team," Hershey coach Bill Barber said of the Bandits. "They play better on the road than they do at home. Very few people realize that Albany was the only team that played better on the road this season than Baltimore."

"We talked all during the season about series being won late and games being won late, too," said Kyle. "Don't get flustered, keep your composure, keep pressing and sooner or later the other guy is apt to crack."

If the third period was frustrating for the Bandits -- who tied the game at 3 on a Slava Butsayev rebound score after about seven minutes, then threatened repeatedly thereafter -- the second period was even more so. Baltimore hammered 19 shots at the Hershey goal, many of them choice, only to be outscored 2-1 in the period.

Cheveldae was hardly the picture of grace and style, but the goalie who registered 100 wins over three NHL seasons early this decade proved effective with his flopping-around style.

In the last two minutes alone, the Bandits had four excellent chances to tie but were thwarted.

Bruce Coles gave the Bears a 2-1 lead after a backchecking mistake by a Bandits wing sent him in alone against Mike O'Neill. Mike McHugh got Hershey's third goal, a direct shot from the right circle. Steve King's fifth goal of the series, a turnaround beauty from the high slot, got the visitors back within one.

The Bandits held up well under Hershey pressure right from the start, killing off two power plays and beginning to take the play away from the home team. On only their second shot of the game, Oleg Mikulchik got his first goal at about the 10-minute mark.

It took the home team just 34 seconds to tie it, Vaclav Prospal somehow drawing clear coming through the low slot and lifting a backhand by O'Neill.

Pub Date: 4/29/96

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