Monarchs take 4-2 win, gain ground on Bandits 3 points separate teams in race for AHL playoffs

April 07, 1997|By FROM STAFF REPORTS

The situation couldn't have looked worse for the Carolina Monarchs in Hershey, Pa., on Saturday night when they trailed the Bears by three goals well into the third period of the AHL game.

But less than 24 hours later, by the time their visit to Baltimore ended, they had a tie, a victory and there were smiles all around.

"We needed a boost so bad," coach Rich Kromm said, "and we finally got it from an unexpected source, Gaetan Poirier, a guy you usually don't look to get offensive production from."

Poirier's contribution was a short-handed goal, only his fifth tally in 61 games. The Monarchs got a point as a result of a 4-4 tie in Hershey on Saturday and just kept on going at the Baltimore Arena against the Bandits.

Craig Fisher's two goals, his 30th and 31st in just 38 games, paced Carolina to a 4-2 win and, once again, it's a horse race for the last division and conference playoff spot.

"Today, it came down to goaltenders," Bandits coach Moe Mantha said. "Their guy [Kevin Weekes] was better than our guy [Tom Askey]. Every time he came up with a big save, it seems they went down and scored."

The victory, which gave the Monarchs the season series, 7-5, was their 27th, tying the Bandits' total as they closed to within three points, 66-63. Should the teams tie in points, total victories is the first tie-breaker.

"We had chances to put them away, but we never seem to go the easy route," said Mantha, still stewing that his team couldn't hold a third-period lead Friday in a 3-3 tie with St. John's. "Carolina's like us, it likes playing on the road."

If that's the case, the Monarchs will get their way because they now journey to St. John's for two, play in Providence on the way home, then finish against Kentucky.

"After a tough [three-game] weekend, we're looking to get a little rest. Then we can worry about who we're playing," said Kromm. "Nothing's going too easy for us either," said Mantha. "Two games with Philly, then Worcester and Rochester, all veteran teams looking to build some momentum for the playoffs. They'll be looking to knock our heads off."

AHL standings, Page 9C

Carolina .. ..2 ..1 ..1 ..-- ..4

Bandits .. ...1 ..1 ..0 ..-- ..2

Pub Date: 4/07/97

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