Surprise! The Bandits played a game at the Baltimore Arena yesterday afternoon, the wake advertised by some local media failing to materialize.
Now to the game, such as it was: Rochester 4, Baltimore 2. "You see a game like this where our spirit and enthusiasm is lacking and you wonder how it could happen after the way things were here Friday night," said Bandits assistant coach Mike Gibbons. Ah, Friday night. With more than 7,000 looking on, the Bandits rubbed out the Providence Bruins, 7-4.
The home team started out right in this one, too. It took just 14 seconds for the newly constructed line of Sean Pronger, Dwayne Norris and Jeremy Stevenson to click: First, Pronger won the opening faceoff and hustled down to the bottom of the left circle, where he was fed a pass by Norris and promptly whacked it in.
That was it for the local forces until Pronger scored his second goal and 14th of the season early in the third period. Meanwhile, the Amerks had scored three goals, were handling the Baltimore power play easily and, when the Bandits got close at 3-2, drew off again with an insurance tally.
"It takes a certain kind of strength to keep things going and come back strong after you've won a game," said Gibbons. "Sunday afternoons haven't been kind to us. We've been flat consistently."
Want proof? The Bandits have one win in these matinee jobs. Perhaps it's to their advantage that the crowd figures have been nothing to write home about, too.
As far as Rochester is concerned, it restores your faith in patience and doggedness to see what the Amerks have become. It was a couple months back when they went through a 1-8 stretch, the lone victory coming here in Baltimore -- on a Sunday, of course.
Yesterday's win made them 11-2-1 in their past 14 games. As coach John Tortorella points out, "It all comes down to the confidence that develops when you believe in yourself and do something to correct your mistakes."
Playing in Baltimore on a Sunday probably should be included in there, too.