Banham, Bandits sneak up on Falcons Comeback win 1st at home when trailing after two

February 24, 1997|By Phil Jackman | Phil Jackman,SUN STAFF

Ever since he tore up the Western Hockey League as a junior, great things have been predicted for Frank Banham. He was considered a strong skater with good hockey sense and a ferocious shot.

Maybe, after more than a year of speculation, Banham is about to begin delivering on that promise. Yesterday, for example, he scored two goals in the last 12 minutes of the game to give the Bandits a 2-1 victory over the Springfield Falcons.

The tallies were only the first and second by Banham this season, but he was playing in only his eighth game because of a groin injury that goes back well over a year and just wouldn't come around no matter what treatment was followed.

"The original injury goes back to juniors," he said. "I played the last nine regular-season games here last year and in the playoffs, but it wasn't healed.

"The summer didn't help either and, last fall during training camp with Anaheim, I couldn't skate. That was tough."

As were the first four dozen with the Bandits this season when Banham not only couldn't play but also rarely had the opportunity to skate hard.

"I've been back for about a month now, and every day I can feel it getting better," he said. "It's right where the groin muscle comes up and meets up toward the hip and, sometimes, in compensating, I'd feel pain right across the stomach and in the groin on the other side."

Such things shouldn't happen to a 21-year-old champing at the bit to get his pro career into high gear.

Until the Bandits' comeback, their first victory at home ever after trailing after two periods, goalie Scott Langkow and the Falcons appeared to have the game well in hand.

They had just a 1-0 advantage, but Springfield plays rugged defense, and the frustration level had to be building up in the Bandits as they fired away at the net to no avail.

The tying goal for the Bandits didn't come until their 35th shot. Bobby Wren had loosened things up with a couple of cat-and-mouse moves during a power play and Craig Reichert put a blast on the net that Langkow was able to deflect. But it went to Banham, who lifted it over the goalie.

Less than six minutes later, Bobby Marshall made the play that set up the game-winner. He broke up a play and took control of the puck outside his blue line and nudged it ahead to Banham, who was about to break clear.

About 20 feet out from the Springfield goal, Banham said, "I knew where I was going with the puck just as [Langkow] moved out to cut the angle. I got lucky."

No way. It was a bolt that would have made it past any goalie unless he guessed right.

It was just a month ago today that the Bandits got their first come-from-behind-after-two-periods victory ever, in Worcester. A second so soon suggests a habit is forming. The record after 140 franchise games now reads 2-57-7 for final-period comebacks.

NOTES: Despite a couple of losses to Philadelphia over the weekend, Carolina picked up a point with an overtime loss and hangs six points behind the Bandits for the last division playoff spot. The Bandits have a rugged schedule ahead, beginning with games here against the 38-14-7 Phantoms on Thursday and Sunday, but the Monarchs are off on a seven-game road trip and they haven't been good travelers (6-20-0).

(AHL standings: Page 8C)

Pub Date: 2/24/97

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