The Bandits' first goal of the AHL season was scored against Hershey and it came on a power play on opening night, two
months ago. Since that time, the team has had 25 man-advantage opportunities against the Bears and it's still in search of goal No. 2.
Lack of success when it comes to special teams play is of only minor concern, however, when one stops to consider the results of the six games between the longtime rivals.
With the usual third-period blitz, the Bears beat the Bandits last night, 4-1, at the Baltimore Arena. While sweeping all games to date, they hold a huge 27-12 advantage in goals scored.
"We don't think about a [season] series against any team, we just try to dominate on a game-to-game basis," said Hershey coach Bob Hartley. Regardless, one, two or six at a time, the result seems pretty much the same.
No coach is going to provide fuel and motivation for an opponent in subsequent meetings, and Hartley probably teaches a course on the subject. He made it sound as if his first-place outfit has to be at the very top of its game to get by Baltimore.
"We've been getting goals just when we need them," he said. Indeed.
Christian Matte had given the visitors a 1-0 lead nearly three-quarters of the way through the second period when, just 56 seconds into the third session, Baltimore's Chris Herperger knotted it with his 10th goal.
Over the next few minutes, the Eric Veilleux-Mike McHugh-Blair Atcheynum line looked invincible. McHugh made a great pass to Veilleux, who scored his sixth goal in five games against Baltimore at the 3: 43 mark.
McHugh then picked off a poor clearing pass by the Bandits and scored unassisted two minutes later. Eric Messier got in on the party at 12: 20 with a goal to match the one he got against the Bandits in Hershey on Saturday night.
"We don't penalty-kill any different against them than we do other team," said Hartley. Statistics say otherwise. As good as the Bears are at home with a 95 percent kill rate, they have been vulnerable on the road (75 percent). But not where the Bandits are concerned: Repeat, they're 0-for-25 against the Bears since Oct. 4.
The Bandits still have a winning record at home (6-5-1), but there are no cupcakes in the seven remaining home dates they have prior to the New Year. Of course, when you're 9-14-2 and in fourth place in a five-team division, almost every game is a struggle.
Pub Date: 12/02/96