Denny Lambert was not being a reluctant hero. It's just that he has only an inkling of what happened last night when his goal after 5: 46 of overtime gave the Bandits a 3-2 victory against the Hershey Bears.
"They were trying to clear the puck out of their end," he said, "and it hit Kinger [alias Steve King]. Then it went up in the air just like a fly ball.
"I turned around to backcheck and there it was on the ice, so I took a swipe at it. Then I went down." Under an avalanche of Hershey players (more on that in a minute).
Lambert was down, yes, but he had no intention of it being for the count: "I think my shot hit the goalie [Tim Cheveldae of Hershey], then I think it came back and hit me and went back toward him. Next thing I saw was it was on his pads and I took a swing at it. That must have done it."
Indeed. The victory gave the Bandits a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five showdown, with Game 3 at the Hersheypark Arena on Wednesday at 7: 30 p.m.
Almost from the time they dropped the puck in Hershey on Friday night, Lambert has been a marked man as far as the Bears are concerned.
Every time you looked up he has been heading toward the penalty box accompanied by an adversary from Hershey. "I've been aggressive, that's my game," he said, "but I don't think I've initiated as many scrums as they have."
The guys who count, the officials, haven't seen it that way. "But I don't get discouraged," said Lambert, "as long as they send someone off with me. That way I'm not hurting the team."
Until Lambert came through with his first goal of the series after 65: 46 of play, Hershey had the edge in play from the end of the first period on. The Bears trailed 2-1 after 20 minutes and finally squared matters with a power play goal early in the third period.
The rivals then matched remarkably inept power plays for 20 minutes as they ended up a combined 2-for-16 in man-advantage situations over the course of the evening.
"A warrior, it's as simple as that," Bandits coach Walt Kyle said of Lambert. "I knew it last year when he played for me in San Diego."
Hershey coach Bill Barber said the outcome was a simple matter: "One, we didn't get the puck out of our end; two, we missed an assignment; three, the puck's in the net.
"I'm not disappointed. All we have to do is win Wednesday at our place. We do that and this series will go five games."
Earlier yesterday, the Bears had received word that the Philadelphia Flyers were calling Jim Montgomery to the big club for its Stanley Cup playoff game against Tampa Bay this afternoon. Montgomery led Hershey in scoring this season (34 goals, 71 assists) while centering its top line.
The Bandits gave away a short-handed goal early, but got the lead after a period on tallies by Chris Herperger and King. From then until the end, once again great reliance was put on goalie Mike O'Neill, who responded with 42 saves.
Hershey .. 1 .. 0 .. 1 .. 0 .. -- .. 2
Bandits .. 2 .. 0 .. 0 .. 1 .. -- .. 3
Pub Date: 4/21/96