Ducks' arrangements with IHL teams suggest partial severing of Bandits ties

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Besides the Bandits, to whom it provides 15 players while charging about $650,000 to cover salaries, Anaheim has working agreements with the Fort Wayne Komets and Long Beach Ice Dogs of the International Hockey League. The Mighty Ducks supply those two teams with between nine and 11 players, mostly young veterans.

What this hints at strongly is that after their two-year contract is up with the Bandits, the Mighty Ducks will be looking to dump the Bandits as a primary affiliate, if not altogether. This should be OK with the local team, as its relationship with Anaheim has not been that beneficial.

While it's true that a coach and three players made the jump to the big club last season, the Ducks have done virtually nothing to solidify the franchise here, and regard the Bandits as an initial testing ground for their youngest signees. Many of the players assigned here the past two seasons hardly could be called NHL prospects. Some weren't even prospects for the AHL.

With the IHL in some major cities opposite NHL franchises (Chicago, Detroit, Phoenix, Los Angeles), it was always thought to be a competitor. Yet several NHL teams have affiliations with IHL clubs. Strange.

Sudden disappearance

About the only thing the Albany River Rats, the Bandits' opponent at the Baltimore Arena tomorrow (7: 30 p.m.), have done wrong the last two years is fail to show up for last year's playoffs. They followed up their championship, 46-17-17 season of 1994-95 with a 54-19-7 record last year while winning 13 straight road games (a pro record) and going unbeaten through 21 games. The Rats lost to Cornwall in the first round of the playoffs, 3-1.

Pssst, don't put Albany on the power play; in its first four games, the River Rats hit eight of 17 attempts for a 47 percent success rate. The Bandits were third with 5-for-9 conversions until they went 0-for-16 last weekend.

On top of their game

Worcester Icecats goaltenders Jamie McLennan and Travis Scott lead the AHL in save percentage at .980 and .968. No wonder the club has allowed just two goals per game and started out 6-2, with one of the losses coming in OT. Scott, fresh out of junior hockey, got a shutout in his AHL debut. Fred Cassivi already has two shutouts and four wins in goal for Syracuse, which suggests Mike Fountain, who held the position last year, might have trouble winning his job back after holding out. When the Bandits' Mike Bales blanked Hamilton recently, it was only the third shutout for the Bandits in their 88-game history. The Bandits and Binghamton have tied, 2-2 and 3-3, in their two meetings, and the former can thank their lucky stars they had Bales in net; the Rangers unloaded 43 shots on the Bandits' goalie in each game. Carolina was outshot by Springfield, 42-15, recently, but the Monarchs prevailed, 3-1, when goalie Kevin Weekes turned away 41 of the shots.

Moving up, looking good

Jim Campbell, who finished his 41-goal season with the Bandits last spring, but who was not offered a contract by Anaheim, is the second-leading scorer (4-2-6) for the St. Louis Blues. Another Bandits alumnus, Mike Manelukof Worcester, is tied for second in AHL goals (7-3-10) after two weeks and eight games. John Lilley, another alum who played briefly in Baltimore last year and now is with Rochester, picked up a six-game suspension last week for nearly decapitating Shawn McCosh (Philly) with an elbow.

Pub Date: 10/24/96

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