Just when it seems as if the Bandits have every reason to get beat, maybe even pummeled, they rise up and play a game seemingly beyond their means and survive.
Playing without a pair of their top offensive threats and making do with just five defensemen, the Bandits hung on against one of the AHL's elite teams, the Springfield Falcons, for a 2-2 tie last night.
Until Kevin Smyth of the Falcons knocked in his second goal with just 13 seconds remaining to force overtime, Baltimore was about to cash in on a well-executed game plan.
As Springfield coach Kevin McCarthy put it: "We were lucky to get a point out of this. Baltimore's defense was outstanding. We missed some chances, but then we got sort of a lucky goal to tie it. Figure it."
The Smyth goal at the end of regulation was lucky. "It was a shot on goal," said Bandits goalie Mike O'Neill, "and I was getting ready to handle it and direct it to my right into the corner. [Defenseman] Jason Marshall was standing there and he moved to see if anyone was behind him. His skate moved and the puck went in off it."
Before the exciting ending and seemingly hours before, all the scoring was crowded into about a five-minute stretch at the end of the first period and the beginning of the second. And if it wasn't for the fact some of the boys were being naughty, the teams might have gone all night scoreless.
Since going bananas in Hershey on Jan. 24 and hitting five of seven power play opportunities, the Bandits were 1-for-17 with the man advantage when the visitors gave them a power play at 15:03, then compounded the misdeed by making it a 5-on-3.
Dwayne Norris scored his 23d goal and, after a Springfield skater came on the ice, Steve King scored his 17th just 30 seconds later.
Baltimore returned one of the favors with a penalty at the end of the first period, which Smyth made good on just 35 seconds into the middle session.
NOTES: Chris Herperger, acquired from Hershey as a result of a swap on the NHL level, centered Plug Liners Dwayne Norris and Mike Maneluk with Jomphe playing for Anaheim. . . . Just 16 seconds had elapsed when Bandit Jeremy Stevenson and the Falcons' Craig Martin started trading haymakers. . . . Those awaiting the return of Doug Crossman to bolster Baltimore's defense, can forget it; he just signed with Chicago of the IHL.
Springfield 0 1 1 0 -- 2
Bandits ... 2 0 0 0 -- 2