Bandits keep plugging along, 6-5 Early, balanced scoring beats 1st-place Syracuse


Don't look now, gang, but the Bandits are fast becoming terrors on Wednesdays, which is a very good thing since they have 15 Baltimore Arena dates scheduled on the midweek day this season.

Checking out the Central Division-leading Syracuse Crunch for the first time, Baltimore obviously liked what it saw, running out to a 3-0 lead in the first period, then struggling mightily before prevailing, 6-5.

Before last night, Baltimore clubbed Carolina, 6-1, last Wednesday, and beat Worcester, 4-3, for the franchise's first win back on Oct. 18. All five Bandits victories have been at home.

As is becoming the custom when the Bandits win, the "Plug Line" of Dwayne Morris, Mike Maneluk and J. F. Jomphe had a big evening, combining for four goals and five assists.

The Bandits' scores came in a variety of ways, Norris and Jomphe scoring with the team short-handed, Norris taking advantage of a power play and Maneluk, Darren Van Impe and Dave Sacco hitting with the teams at even strength.

Trailing 5-0 by midgame, the Crunch never stopping pressuring and twice closed to within two goals during the last 12 minutes of the contest. It became a one-goal game with 10 seconds remaining when Brian Loney knocked in his 14th goal as the Crunch pulled its goalie for the extra skater.

"When you're up by five goals, you're trying to do the right things, but I guess there's a natural tendency to go for more," Norris said of his team's late fade. "If the game was five or 10 minutes longer, there's no telling what would have happened."

The right wing, who has now scored three goals and eight assists in five games with the Bandits, added, "Usually, five goals is enough to win, so you don't carry the puck too much. You get to the red line and dump it in. Otherwise, they steal it from you and you make it easy for them."

Coach Walt Kyle, understandably, was ecstatic about the first 30 minutes, crestfallen about the last 30. "Mature and poised teams don't let that happen," he said. "But we did do what it took to get it done. That sixth goal by Van Impe was huge.

"You can talk about it over and over, the need for not backing off in a situation like that. But I guess it will always happen."

Norris' first goal was a thing of beauty created out of his desire in outhustling two Syracuse defenders to the puck. He beat Crunch goalie Mike Fountain hands down.

The power-play play goal, giving Baltimore a 2-0 lead, was a one-timer off a seeing-eye cross-ice pass from Doug Crossman.

Later, Norris and Jomphe flew away while the Bandits were in a penalty-killing situation, and Norris flicked a pass to his linemate as he was being assaulted by a defender. Jomphe directed it in with one hand, his left.

Van Impe's goal, eight minutes into the third period, broke up a run of five goals by Syracuse. Loney's hat trick was accomplished in the third period, Brian scoring early (1:18), midway (13:48) and late (19:50).

NOTES: After posting a record of 29-42-9 in its inaugural year last season, Syracuse is second in the Central Division and Western Conference of the AHL this time around -- with a 11-9-1 mark.

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