SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- When a young team goes through its inevitable growing pains, the last thing it needs is to face one of the league's hottest teams.
Last night, the fledgling Baltimore Bandits ran into the American Hockey League's most experienced team, and the results were predictable.
Robert Petrovicky scored one goal and set up three others as the Springfield Falcons routed the Bandits, 8-2, before 3,450 at the Springfield Civic Center.
Iain Fraser scored two goals and Rob Murray, Michal Grosek, Ravil Gusmanov, Andre Faust and Steve Martins had one apiece for Springfield. David Sacco and Vyacheslav Butsayev scored for the Bandits.
Springfield, which has more points than any other AHL team except the St. John's Maple Leafs, is off to a 6-2-1 start. Last year, the Falcons, like this year's Bandits, were a first-year AHL entry (after the Springfield Indians moved to Worcester) and did not make the playoffs.
"We have the right mix of veterans and rookies," said Falcons captain Murray, who played for the Baltimore Skipjacks in 1988-91.
Their experience showed against a group of largely untested prospects from the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. Springfield vaulted to a 3-0 first period lead and never looked back.
"That's the best team we've played," Bandits coach Walt Kyle said. "We were just brutal."
The Falcons got a strong effort in goal from Jason Muzzatti, who finished with 22 saves in his Springfield debut. Muzzatti had spent the previous two weeks practicing with the Whalers, but did not get into a game. He's in Springfield on a two-week conditioning assigment.
"Practice can wear on you and you definitely do your best learning when you play a game," said Muzzatti, whose last game was an NHL exhibition for Calgary against Dallas on Sept. 20.
He was claimed on waivers by Hartford on Oct. 6.
"He really stoned us," Kyle said. "We had a wide-open net in the second period and he stopped us cold."
Murray opened the scoring at 4:31, taking a pass from Gusmanov and drilling a slap shot from the top of the left circle past Mike O'Neill. Grosek, playing his first game of the season after recovering from stomach flu, scored a power-play goal at 8:14 after a nice setup by Petrovicky.
Petrovicky, who has learned to use his wings better than he did last season, made a fine centering pass to Fraser, who converted at 15:55 for a 3-0 Falcons lead.
Petrovicky redirected a centering pass from Kevin Smyth past O'Neill at 5:32 of the second period for a 4-0 lead. Baltimore got on the board at 6:06 when David Sacco converted a feed from Mike Maneluk.
But Gusmanov struck short-handed at 14:32 as the Falcons raised their lead to 5-1 and chased O'Neill (21 shots, 16 saves), who was replaced by Byron Penstock.
Faust and Fraser scored 1:32 apart early in the third period before Butsayev answered for Baltimore. Steve Martins scored a power-play goal at 9:15.
Baltimore . 0 1 1 -- 2
Springfield 2 3 3 -- 8
First period -- 1, Springfield, Murray 2 (Gusmanov,
Faust), 4:31. 2, Springfield, Grosek 1 (Petrovicky, Fraser), 8:14, pp. 3, Springfield, Fraser 7 (Thompson, Petrovicky), 15:55.
Second period -- 4, Springfield, Petrovicky 4 (Smyth), 5:32. 5, Baltimore, Sacco 3 (Maneluk), 6:06. 6, Springfield, Gusmanov 6 (Murray), 14:23, sh.
Third period -- 7, Faust 4 (Murray), 0:21. 8, Springfield, Fraser 8 (Petrovicky), 1:53. 9, Baltimore, Butsayev 1 (King, Skalde), 2:42. 10, Springfield, Martins 2 (Faust, Finley), 9:15, pp. Penalties -- Trynka, Bal, (holding), 8:55; Stevenson, Bal, (cross checking), 13:54; Smyth, Spr, (slashing), 13:54; Stevenson, Bal, (instigating,major-fighting, game-misconduct) Murray, Spr, (major-fighting, 10-minute misconduct), 16:24; Martin, Spr, (game misconduct) 16:24.
Shots on goal -- Baltimore 8-10-6-24. Springfield, 15-8-13--36. Power play opportunities -- Baltimore 0 of 7. Springfield 2 of 5. Goalies -- Baltimore, O'Neill 1-3-0 (21 shots, 16 saves). Penstock (14:23 2nd per.) (15-12) Springfield, Muzzatti 1-0--0 (24-22). A -- 3,450.
Opponent: Worcester IceCats
Site: The Centrum, Worcester, Mass.
Radio: WITH (1230 AM)
Outlook: The Bandits' first AHL victory was against Worcester in Baltimore, so the IceCats (3-4) figure to be in a vengeful mood at home. The game ends a stretch in which Baltimore will have played eight of its first 11 games on the road.