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Bandits have to settle for 3-3 tie in Providence Late goal spoils chance for first victory on road


PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- They were a team in desperate need of a win, and with a one-goal lead over the Providence Bruins with 27 seconds left in regulation, it looked like the struggling Baltimore Bandits were going to get one.

But the Bruins' Tim Sweeney scored on a blast from the point in the waning moments of the third period, and the Bandits had to settle for a 3-3 overtime tie last night in an American Hockey League game before 10,214.

Sweeney's goal, his second of the game, capped a wild third period that saw Baltimore (2-10-2) twice erase deficits and take a lead with two goals in 1:21.

It would have been the first come-from-behind win in the Bandits' short history. It also would have been their first road win. Instead it's one point in the standings, which gives them six, although Bandits coach Walt Kyle didn't mind coming away with at least that much.

"Hey, if we could tie every game on the road," he said, "we'd be better than .500."

J. F. Jomphe, Mike Maneluk and David Sacco scored for the Bandits, who were outshot, 33-24.

Providence, which had suffered three straight shutout losses, took a 1-0 lead into the third period, but Jomphe tied it at 4:22 when he scored on a wraparound that eluded Bruins goalie Scott Bailey.

Tod Hartje replied for the Bruins, but Maneluk re-tied it on a power play, when his shot from an angle squeezed through Bailey's pads.

"Maybe we took a step backward, then," said Bruins coach Bob Francis.

"For the first time all year," said Kyle, "I could feel we were starting to roll."

Sacco put the Bandits ahead when he tipped in Vyacheslav Butsayev's shot from the point. Francis pulled Bailey with 1:40 left, so the Bandits could have put the game away with an empty-net goal. Instead, Sweeney tied things again as time was ticking away.

The Bandits suffered three near-misses in the first period. Newly signed Dwayne Norris, forechecking in the Baltimore zone, stole the puck from Bruins defenseman Dennis Chervyakov. Racing down the ice with Maneluk, he sent a pass ahead that barely eluded his teammate.

Later, Norris, moving in on Bailey, fought off a defenseman with one arm, while trying to flip the puck into the open side of the net with the other. But the puck rolled off his stick, just as he was about to sweep it forward.

Then, shortly after the Bruins had taken the lead, Sacco stole the puck from Peter Laviolette and walked in alone on Bailey. When he was just five feet in front of the goal, the puck hopped off his stick, too.

The Bandits gave up four 2-on-1 breaks to the Bruins in the first period, including two while on the power play. It cost them when Sweeney, working with Ryan Hughes, cashed in an easy rebound, after Baltimore goalie Mike O'Neill had made a fine stop from short range.

"We were tight in the first period," said Kyle, "but I thought we settled down after that."

Baltimore showed some offensive spark late in the second period, as it put three quick shots on Bailey, then received a power play opportunity when Milt Mastad was whistled for interference.

But instead of taking advantage of the situation, the Bandits barely avoided giving up their second short-handed goal, thanks only to two brilliant saves by O'Neill.

The Bruins had another goal waved off in the second period when Hartje was ruled to have kicked the puck past O'Neill, although the red light went on.

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