The way things continue to unfold for the Baltimore Bandits, they may have to content themselves with making games close for a while in their first go-around in the American Hockey League.
The Bandits again came out second best in third-period play and fell to the Providence Bruins, 4-3, last night before 2,314 at the Baltimore Arena.
Frustration probably doesn't cover the way the Bandits' cast is feeling after winning just once in nine outings.
"I've never been a minus player in my life," said team captain Alex Hicks, "and I'm probably minus 10 at this point." Plus-minus means the number of goals scored for and against while a player is on the ice.
"It's doubly frustrating for all of us because we're all trying to make it up to the NHL, which makes it personal, and we want to do well for the Bandits and the fans."
Providence took the lead for good a third of the way into the final period and, with about seven minutes remaining, pushed its advantage to two goals when Ryan Hughes scored the eventual game-winner, skirting the Bandits' defense and hitting from in close. About five minutes previous, Hughes had assisted on the go-ahead goal by Ted Crowley.
The Bandits provided some excitement in the last three minutes when Sean Pronger got his second goal on what amounted to the old flying wedge play. As Pronger approached the goal, Pete Leboutillier wiped out Providence goalie Scott Bailey.
Referee Luke Galvin decided that Leboutillier had been "helped" just before the pileup to the left of the Bruins' goal.
"We were all expecting to have a tough start but nothing this bad," Hicks said. "We're a young team, yes, but we've got older guys, too, and we just haven't been pulling our weight. We're the guys to blame."
The rivals were squared at 2 after two periods, Dave Sacco scoring his first and second goals of the season on power plays around Bruins scores by Tim Sweeney and Clayton Beddoes.
NOTES: Center Slavy Butsayer was signed as a free agent by the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, assigned to the Bandits and was aboard for last night's game. In 117 games in the NHL with the Philadelphia Flyers and San Jose Sharks, Butsayer picked up 16 goals and 25 assists. . . . Defensemen Mark DeSantis and Scott Chartier didn't dress for the Bandits as the club went with just five defenders and Hicks playing up and back.