As the Bandits climbed off the bus from Hershey, Pa., after a big overtime victory against the Bears on Saturday night, coach Walt Kyle warned, "Don't sleep all morning, guys. Get up and move around. We don't want a bunch of 'bedheads' out there today against Rochester."
Maybe somebody was listening, but you couldn't prove it by watching the Bandits' performance at the Arena yesterday against the Americans.
Combining what looked like a relaxed pre-game skate with two periods of somnambulism, Baltimore fell behind four goals, which made recovery all but impossible.
The final was 7-4 for Rochester in a match nowhere near that close. The Bandits now are 0-5 in the second day of back-to-back games and Kyle is bothered. The club faces 13 more such situations before the end of the regular season.
"Once again we were down in numbers," said Kyle, "but that and the fact we played last [Saturday] night has nothing to do with it. We weren't fatigued. We showed that in the third period."
That's when the Bandits scored their four goals.
"The real kick in the head is we were not mentally prepared to play," Kyle said. "All we're looking for is a consistent effort and performance and it's not there sometimes. Why not?"
Lately, most of the Bandits' success had defense as an integral part of the foundation. "Collectively, that wasn't the case today," Kyle said.
The Bandits came out sleep-walking, not even putting a shot on goal in the first 8:20. They then took five quick shots during a two-man advantage, but the result was the same on the scoreboard: zip.
Then things got worse. After an early power-play goal, Rochester hit two more scores in the last six minutes of the first period. During one stretch, the Bandits had an illegal six skaters on ice, but they didn't put a shot on goal during the entire shift.
"We've been playing timidly too much lately, waiting for something bad to happen to us," said Rochester coach John Tortorella. "We needed this game so badly to get out of our losing funk."
At least Baltimore stopped the visitors in the second period, holding them to one goal.
The last 20 minutes resembled an NHL All-Star game in which every shot seems to go in. Once Rochester was ahead 5-0, the Bandits came to life and, in 15 minutes, rattled all their scores past goalie John Tanner. Mike Maneluk had a pair, giving him 13, which ties for the club lead.