HERSHEY, Pa. -- Sean Pronger continued to have no problem finding the net, but despite his pair of goals and a solid team effort the Bandits fell to the Hershey Bears for the fifth straight time last night, 5-3.
It is rapidly becoming apparent that no matter how well the Bandits play against the AHL farm club of the Colorado Avalanche, some sort of outside intervention might be necessary for them to succeed.
It's a point Moe Mantha won't concede, the Bandits coach
saying, "We're just going to have to find a way to beat these guys and it will probably come down to special teams. Look at the stats and I think you'll find it all comes down to special teams."
That being the case, the Bears are a load when they're on the power play or killing one off. By stopping the Bandits on four man-advantage opportunities last night, Hershey now has killed off 48 of 51 penalties at home.
"I think the war games we had [Friday] night and our third game in four nights got to our legs eventually," continued Mantha, whose team took a 3-2 lead into the second period but would not score again. "Meanwhile, Hershey has been home in [its] beds playing just once in about a week."
The Bandits enjoyed three one-goal leads, but each time the Bears came back to tie, the last time at the start of the second period. Then they were in control.
They were in control mainly because of Eric Veilleux's hat trick, accomplished before the game hit its midpoint. Veilleux has five goals and four assists in Hershey's five wins over Baltimore and linemates Blair Atcheymum (3-5-8) and Mike McHugh (3-4-7) aren't far behind.
Together with his hat trick Friday night, Pronger's two goals gave him 16 on his 24th birthday, matching the total he picked up last season in 72 games. Assisting on both goals was Craig Reichert, who had a goal and five assists Friday and continues to lead the Bandits in scoring (6-18-24).
"In both cases with Pronger and Reichert, it's a case of them simply going out and taking charge," Mantha said. "Both of them have a good shot and they've been taking more. That and the fact they've brought their intensity level up. They're creating their own opportunities."
The Bears, who won nine straight from Oct. 18 to Nov. 6, were in a slight slump, losing four of five, until goalie J. F. Labbe shut out Springfield Wednesday and held the Bandits to one goal (25 saves) in relief of Petr Franek last night. Tom Askey did his best to keep the Bandits close, making 31 saves as Baltimore's two-game win streak ended.
The 60 minutes of hockey concluded with a couple of fights at the final buzzer, perhaps serving as an introduction to the rematch between the teams this evening (6) at the Baltimore Arena.
NOTES: The Bandits have lost Ryan Sittler for several weeks to a broken bone in his hand. Also on the shelf momentarily is Bob Wren (flu). Mike Leclerc was in a car accident heading for the bus downtown yesterday afternoon and had to bum a ride to Hershey.
Opponent: Hershey Bears
Site: Baltimore Arena
Radio: WWLG (1360 AM), WASA (1330 AM)
Outlook: "Hershey Month," five games against the Bears in a 30-day stretch, continues. The Bandits are in danger of losing the season series already, as their rivals go for their sixth straight victory.
Pub Date: 12/01/96