Bandits' rally jolts Monarchs, 7-6 Trnka's winner clinches comeback from 5-1 deficit

March 24, 1997|By Todd Taylor | Todd Taylor,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- If the Bandits do hold on for the AHL's final playoff spot, they will almost certainly look back on yesterday's game as the pivotal point in their season.

The Bandits erased a four-goal deficit in a seven-minute span of the second period, and the resulting 7-6 victory over Carolina may have erased the Monarchs from postseason contention.

Pavel Trnka scored the game-winner on a bouncing shot from the blue line with 7: 14 remaining for a victory that put the Bandits eight points ahead of Carolina in the chase for the last remaining playoff berth and left the Monarchs demoralized and deflated.

After grabbing an early 1-0 lead, the Bandits were overrun by the Monarchs, who knocked out starting goalie Mike Bales and sent the Bandits to the locker room trailing, 5-1, after one period.

"I think we came out flat-footed in the first period after our long bus ride to get here," Bandits coach Moe Mantha said. "We just went back to fundamentals and tried to chip away. The guys believed in themselves the whole time."

Bob Wren got the Bandits going with 8: 45 to play in the second period with a goal to pull them within 5-2. Less than two minutes later, the Monarchs turned it over at center ice to set up a two-on-one Bandits rush.

Mike LeClerc broke in on goal and was pulled down by the Monarchs' Scott Fraser. LeClerc, Fraser, Monarch goalie Kevin Weekes and the puck all ended up in the net, and the play was ruled a goal.

Weekes protested vigorously -- taking the puck out of the net and hurling it at the scoreboard overhead to earn a misconduct penalty -- but the worst was yet to come for Carolina.

Craig Reichert cleaned up the rebound of his shot to make it 5-4, but the crusher came as the Monarchs went on the power play with 2: 12 left in the period. Drake Berehowski gave away the puck at the Monarchs' blue line, and David Sacco cruised in for the short-handed goal that tied the score.

The Monarchs did salvage a 6-5 lead to end the period, as Gilbert Dionne scored his league-leading 18th power-play goal. But the damage was done.

LeClerc tied the score for the Bandits two minutes into the final period, pouncing on a loose puck in front of the Carolina net, and then Trnka scored the game-winner.

"Jeremy Stevenson got in front of the goalie, and I don't think he ever saw it." said Trnka.

Pub Date: 3/24/97

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