Now is not a good time to be playing the Hershey Bears. They came to the Baltimore Arena last night riding a six-game win streak and proceeded to make it seven against the Bandits, 5-3.
So, guess where the Bandits play tonight? Yep, 90 miles up I-83 at the Hersheypark Arena. After tomorrow's home game against the Carolina Monarchs, the Bandits go back up there Wednesday night.
Those are the rigors of the American Hockey League schedule. Later this month, the Bandits play the Monarchs four straight times.
But for now, three games in six nights against the Bears.
JTC "Did you have to remind me?" sighed coach Moe Mantha.
After wins at home against Albany and Providence, the Bandits had reason to believe they were on their way, but this defeat and a loss in Philadelphia on Wednesday tossed a wet blanket on that fire.
"Hey, I can go out there and start screaming," said Mantha. "I thought we played a good game. The guys produced everything they could."
Tied 3-3 after two periods, the Bandits had a chance to take the lead in the first two minutes of the final session, but Sean Pronger, who scored his ninth goal earlier, failed to convert on a breakaway.
Blair Atcheynum, who scored the Bears' first goal, put Hershey ahead for good early in the last period and Josef Marha cemented it late. The visitors had just four shots in the period, but two went in.
The Bandits nearly swept the visitors out of the joint in the first 10 minutes, getting a goal but also booting about three other solid opportunities.
"We had a shot early," said Mantha, "but we didn't capitalize."
Chris Herperger got his fifth goal at 2: 57, but Mike Leclerc whiffed off to the side of an open net and Brian Goudie showed the rust caused by being sidelined with a broken hand by failing to cash in from point-blank range. Then the Bears began to show why they were 8-3 through the first 11 games.
Atcheynum tied it just after the midpoint of the period, and Hershey moved ahead 10: 22 into the second period. Three more goals were scored inside the next four minutes and the teams left the ice all square, 3-3.
NOTES: AHL commissioner Dave Andrews was on hand last night and said fan balloting for the All-Star Game in Saint John, New Brunswick (Jan. 15-16) will be staged between Nov. 15 and Dec. 23. The Bandits have a few injuries right now, but they're carrying a full complement of players (23).
Hershey 1 2 2 -- 5
` Bandits 1 2 0 -- 3
Opponent: Hershey Bears
Site: Hersheypark Arena
Time: 7: 30
Radio: WWLG (1360 AM), WASA (1330 AM)
Outlook: Last season, the big Quonset hut in the middle of the amusement park brought out the best in the Bandits as the team won five of its nine games there, including the fifth and deciding game in the first round of the playoffs.