PHILADELPHIA -- Quickly is how long it takes for a game to be decided when a visiting team troops into the Spectrum apprehensively and expects to ease into the action at its own pace.
The Bandits, treated to a five-minute power play early, gave indication they weren't fully ready to go. Not only did they fail to threaten seriously with the extended man advantage, the Phantoms scored a short-handed goal during the penalty kill to prove they were the ready ones, then crammed three goals into just 31 seconds early in the second period and breezed to their ninth straight home victory, 5-1.
The Phantoms are a definite overlay at home as the streak and overall record (11-2-1) suggests, and this doesn't take into account the "help" they get from the rabid Philly fans, of which there were 7,050. Too, the Bandits had just one win in 10 tries on the road since mid-October, making the outlook beyond grim for the visitors, especially if they weren't charged up.
Add the fact Mike Bales wasn't sharp in goal for the Bandits and, well, the team has only to wait until 1 o'clock this afternoon to make amends as it plays host to Kentucky at the Baltimore Arena.
"I can't say I was especially pleased with our play tonight, but I'll take the win," said Philadelphia coach Bill Barber. Was he being an ingrate?
"Naw, it's just that we gave them too much [like 40 shots on goalie Dominic Roussel]. We are playing better and most of the reason is our new faces, eight of them. We've got a better chemistry.
"We've got role players who come to play every night and better overall talent. We had some growing up to do from last year."
The Bandits had some success against this team last season when it was headquarted in Hershey, winning as many as they lost and eliminating it from the playoffs. It's going to be tough coming close to that in the 10 games this season.
About five minutes had elapsed in the second period when Shawn McCosh scored his 13th goal for Philadelphia. It was a shot Bales had stopped a million times this season. Just 19 seconds later, Peter White had his 15th, again on a stoppable drive, and Bales was excused. Tom Askey was the relief, a misnomer since the first shot he faced 12 seconds later whizzed into the net.
Is there a rule against utilizing two goalies, at once? Craig Reichert nailed his seventh goal on a power play in mid-period. From a Bandits perspective, too bad it didn't occur earlier during the five-minute major, it might have been a different game. At least that's how Bandits coach Moe Mantha usually views similar circumstances.
NOTES: During their 1-10 swoon on the road over the last seven weeks, the Bandits have scored just 18 goals, a 1.6 goals per game clip. Steve King, the winger who led the Bandits in goals last season, has scored nine in 23 games for Philadelphia.
Opponent: Kentucky Thoroughblades.
Site: Baltimore Arena.
Time: 1 p.m.
Radio: WWLG (1360 AM), WASA (1330 AM).
Outlook: Yes, Maryland, there is a team from Lexington, Ky., in the American Hockey League and the division foes of the Bandits will make their first appearance at the Arena this afternoon. The Bandits lost a couple of one-goal games to the Blades seven weeks ago and trail them in the standings by six points.