Bandits have little fight Rangers pack 2-0 punch

Rookie Cloutier gets back-to-back shutouts

December 22, 1996|By Sean Mayer | Sean Mayer,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- Solid defense and stellar goaltending led the Binghamton Rangers to their second consecutive American Hockey League shutout last night, a feat the franchise hadn't pulled off since the 1987-88 season.

But the anemic Bandits contributed mightily to the Rangers' 2-0 victory, taking only two shots in the third period against first-year pro Dan Cloutier, who made 22 saves.

Cloutier and the Rangers had won, 3-0, on Friday night against the River Rats in Albany, N.Y.

Kay Whitmore first accomplished consecutive shutouts for the Binghamton Whalers on Feb. 20-21 during the '87-88 season.

Todd Hall and Rick Willis each scored their first goals of the season. And it was the first pro goal for Hall, who was recalled from Charlotte of the East Coast Hockey League on Nov. 24.

Mike Bales again kept the Bandits competitive. He made 36 saves, including many spectacular stops in the third period.

"The last couple of games, I've felt a little better," said Cloutier, whose record is 7-11-4. "We're playing a lot better defensively. We're making simple plays."

The Bandits outplayed the Rangers for most of the first period but could not sustain their momentum. Cloutier made some of his biggest saves during that pe- riod. The Bandits had 12 shots, including several during the first of their two power plays.

With 4: 50 remaining in the period, Cloutier made a chest save on Valeri Karpov's blast in a two-on-one. A little less than a minute later, he stopped Pavel Trinka on a hard shot from the right point.

The Bandits' opportunities wouldn't improve.

"They did a good job keeping us on the perimeter," said defenseman Andy Silverman, playing his third game with the Bandits since being sent on loan by the New York Rangers on Wednesday. "We had some chances when they were down and out of the play, but we just couldn't put the puck in the net.

That's nothing new for the Bandits, who average less than three goals per game.

For the Rangers, who entered Friday's game 1-7-2 in their previous 10 games, it was their second straight dominating performance.

"We're a little more confident, and the efforts have been spirited," Rangers coach George Burnett said. "And obviously, Danny's had some real good outings."

Hall gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead 4: 58 into the second period. He took a pass from Chris Ferraro, gained the advantage in the Bandits' zone, wheeled behind the net and beat Bales on a wraparound.

Willis' goal increased Binghamton's lead at 8: 42 of the second. After taking Eric Flinton's pass across the Bandits' blue line, Willis took a rising slap shot that was just out of Bales' reach on the glove side.

In the previous meeting of these teams, Nov. 29 at Baltimore Arena, there were 11 fights and 256 penalty minutes in a 10-1 Bandits victory. Last night's game was remarkably tame. Each team had only two power plays and there was only one fight, which occurred in the first period.

Bandits tonight

Opponent: Syracuse Crunch

Site: Baltimore Arena

Time: 6

Radio: WWLG (1360 AM), WASA (1330 AM)

Outlook: It's the first meeting between last season's second-round playoff opponents, a seven-game series Syracuse victory. Both teams are completing a three-game weekend. The Crunch started well, winning its first three and nine of its first 12 games, but has been a sub-.500 team the last month.

Pub Date: 12/22/96

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