Hard-bitten old pros tell us there's no such thing as a moral victory. But under the circumstances the Bandits are facing these days, there has to be something to go along with another L (for loss) when a solid effort goes for naught against a superior team.
Recovering from a pair of two-goal deficits in the first 15 minutes of action, the Bandits managed to pull even early in the third period before succumbing to the Springfield Falcons, 4-3, last night at Baltimore Arena.
Trailing by a goal after two periods, the home team squared it on a power-play score by Pavel Trnka after 5: 24 of the third period. It was Trnka's first goal of the season, and he probably should shoot more; his slam from about 30 feet was one of the finest knuckleballs since Hoyt Wilhelm quit pitching.
The winning goal followed about six minutes later, also on a power play. Falcons defenseman Dallas Eakins put the puck past goalie Tom Askey, who was screened by a couple of players and had no idea where the shot was coming from.
rTC "A veteran play," Bandits coach Moe Mantha said of the shot by Eakins. "It was no great, unstoppable shot, but he saw the situation [the screening of Askey] and he just made sure the shot was on net."
Increasingly, that's what has been killing the Bandits during their six-game slide, lack of experience. "Once again, we had our chances," Mantha continued. "Thing is, when we get a chance, we have to bear down harder."
Not that there was any letdown in the Bandits' effort when they got back to a 3-3 tie. The same cannot be said for mistakes -- tiny, gnawing mistakes.
The penalty against Igor Nikulin setting up the power play that produced the winning goal was called for a retaliatory swing of a stick. Rataliation maneuvers are always picked up, it seems.
"We'll find a way to get out of this spin," said Mantha. "And we'll be the better for it in the long run."
The search continues in Hershey tonight.
Opponent: Hershey Bears
Site: Hersheypark Arena
Time: 7: 30
Radio: WWLG (1360 AM), WASA (1330 AM)
Outlook: The gantlet against Springfield, Hershey and Rochester, three of the top six teams in the AHL, continues against the Bears, who already have beaten the Bandits six times in as many tries.
Pub Date: 12/14/96