HERSHEY, Pa. -- OK, the franchise is in its infancy, but when are the Bandits going to win a game?
They dropped their third straight last night, losing to the Hershey Bears, 7-3, before 4,091 at Hersheypark Arena in a resumption of an American Hockey League rivalry that began more than 30 years ago.
"It would be wrong to say I'm not concerned, but we knew what to expect coming into the season," said Bandits coach Walt Kyle, aware the team has been outscored, 16-6. "This is a young team. It's going to take patience and growth for it to develop."
Penalties, as Kyle noted, handicapped the Bandits last night. They had 12 to Hershey's seven, and the Bears tied a club record with five power-play goals.
"Naturally, they put five experienced guys on power plays against our young defense," Kyle said. "They took advantage of us."
The game may have been the first between the Bandits and Bears, but it wasn't the first between Baltimore and Hershey.
The cities have been beating on each other in AHL competition off and on since 1962. Baltimore had the Clippers from 1962 to 1976 and the Skipjacks from 1982 to 1993.
"Small town versus big town," said Frank Mathers, former Hershey player, coach, general manager and president. "It has really developed over the years. It's the best we've ever had, and we've had some good ones with Rochester, Cleveland and Pittsburgh."
Mathers smiled as he recalled a game in which Baltimore coach Terry Reardon became so incensed over an official's call that "he chased the ref all over the ice -- the ref on skates and Terry in shoes. What a sight."
The Bears have always had Baltimore's number. They were 72-53-12 against the Clippers and 75-62-13 against the Skipjacks.
Wayne Hicks, father of Bandits captain Alex Hicks, played for the Clippers against Hershey from 1968 to 1970.
"Dad said he hated to play here," Alex Hicks said. "The crowd was always into it and it was a big tough team. And of course Hershey hated Baltimore."
Some things never change. In the teams' two exhibition games this season, there were 51 penalties for 174 minutes, including eight fights, three ejections and one three-game suspension. Last night, there were 19 penalties and an occasional flurry of fists.
"A rivalry has to be developed amongst the players," said Kyle. "Judging by what we've seen so far, this is going to be a tough series all year."
NOTES: Eight of the Bandits' first 11 games are on the road. The team has games at Carolina tomorrow and Saturday before returning home next Wednesday to play Worcester. The Bandits and Bears next will meet Nov. 26.
Bandits 1 2 0 -- 3
Hershey 3 2 2 -- 7