Bandits prevent victory, settle for tie with Leafs St. John's knots it, 3-3, with furious third period

April 05, 1997|By FROM STAFF REPORTS

The Bandits, ahead by two goals early and by a goal entering the third period, dragged their famed prevent defense out of mothballs at Baltimore Arena last night.

Which is a roundabout way of saying the Bandits blew another potential AHL victory by buttoning up into their defensive shell. Hammering 25 shots at beleaguered goalie Mike Bales during the third period, the St. John's Maple Leafs tied the game 3-3 late in regulation, and that's how it ended after overtime.

With just 2: 27 remaining in regulation and after putting constant pressure on Bales, the Leafs evened the count on Danil Markov's first goal of the year.

St. John's outshot Baltimore 39-24, including 25-6 in the third period.

"We certainly should have won that one," said St. John's coach Mark Hunter, who noted that Bales made a half-dozen "exceptional saves."

A power-play goal by Pavel Trnka and Craig Reichert's 19th goal of the season gave the Bandits a 2-0 lead after the first period, even though they had just five shots on goal. That was a deluge, considering the Maple Leafs were credited with just two shots over the first 20 minutes.

Back-to-back goals by Shayne Toporowski less than three minutes apart early in the second period got the visitors back to even before the Bandits' David Sacco netted his 17th goal off a nifty set-up pass from Ryan Sittler at 18: 19. That sent the home team off with a 3-2 lead after two periods.

Bales, who had 36 stops overall, made his best saves against Brian Wiseman, who has piled up 33 goals and 59 saves in 68 games. Twice from point-blank range and with time, Wiseman was unsuccessful.

For all Bales' brilliance, it was a fluke that robbed him of his 13th victory.

"I had the shot on the tying goal stopped completely when it banged off my stick," he said. "When I began to squeeze to control it, though, it trickled down between my legs. The puck was probably on its edge when it hit my stick."

The point increased the Bandits' lead over Carolina to six points in the race for the last division playoff spot. The Monarchs, here for a 4 p.m. game tomorrow, lost in Philadelphia, 3-1.

(AHL standings, 10C)

Pub Date: 4/05/97

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