Since beginning the reconstruction of their defense with the acquisition of Doug Crossman and Bobby Marshall five games ago, the Baltimore Bandits have been allowing less than three goals per game and have improved markedly as penalty killers, allowing just two goals in 17 tries by the opposition. Another defenseman, Oleg Mikulchik, aboard for five games for conditioning purposes from Anaheim, got high marks from coach Walt Kyle in his first outing here.
More than 26 minutes went by in the Bandits-Carolina Monarchs game Sunday before a penalty was called. Then, only seven minors were noted in the entire game. In the preceding two games at the Baltimore Arena, both Bandits victories, 11 and 14 infractions were whistled. It's called hockey, not mayhem.
* Until a couple of weeks ago, front-office types of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, parent club of the Bandits, had to be sweating it as the team was off to a 2-8 start in the final year of their three-year contracts.
The schedule wasn't promising with good teams from the East due at the Pond, then a road trip. The Ducks ran off six victories in seven games, and suddenly there were smiles all around.
Norris out of L.A.
Baltimore wing Dwayne Norris was second in scoring in "The I" (International Hockey League) when Anaheim signed him as a free agent and assigned him to Baltimore. Norris carried a fairly big contract with the Los Angeles Ice Dogs, and since that team is drawing about a thousand fans a game to the Sports Arena in L.A., the Dogs were only too happy to unload his contract.
* Alex Hicks, after being called to Anaheim from Baltimore, did not play in the first three Mighty Duck games. Finally given a chance, he scored two goals and an assist and was tabbed the No. 1 star of the game.
Road still rough
Baltimore continues as the only team in the AHL without a road victory. The Bandits visit Binghamton on Saturday. One thing you don't want to do is put Binghamton on the power play: After their first 16 games, the Rangers were 23-for-72 with the man advantage at home, 15-for-57 on the road and 38-for-129 overall (30 per cent success rate), the league's best in all categories.
* Talk about earning a paycheck: Ex-Baltimore Skipjacks goalie Byron Dafoe, now in net for the L.A. Kings, recently stopped 56 of 58 shots in a 2-2 tie with Toronto. Continuing alumni news: Remember left wing Steve Malteis? He's going berserk in the IHL again. After scoring 57 goals for the Chicago Wolves last year, Malteis scored a dozen goals during a recent six-game stretch for Chicago, including back-to-back hat-trick games.
* There will be post-game skating following Bandit Sunday 5 p.m. affairs Dec. 17 (vs. Portland) and Jan. 7 (vs. Rochester).
Opponent: Syracuse Crunch
Site: Baltimore Arena
Radio: WITH (1230 AM), WAMD (970 AM)
Outlook: The Southern Division-leading Crunch (11-8-1) defeated Hershey and Fredericton and lost to Adirondack in back-to-back-to-back games over the weekend. Denny Felsner and Brian Loney are the top point men for Syracuse. The Bandits are 3-2-1 in their past six games and had an unbeaten streak of three games that ended Sunday.