Quick, Bandits, secede from the state of Maryland, declare yourself a protectorate of New York and request entry into the Empire State Division of the American Hockey League.
Winless in seven games since Nov. 29, the Bandits turned in a commanding performance while pounding the defending Calder Cup champion Rochester Americans, 6-3, before 1,432 last night at Baltimore Arena.
The victory boosted the Bandits' record to 4-0-2 against squads along the Mohawk Trail while they are just 3-14-1 against Mid-Atlantic Division brethren. It wasn't as if the Americans were in a slump. They entered the game 3-0-1 in their past four.
"It was the kind of game I like to play in," said Mike Leclerc, who scored two goals and assisted on one for the Bandits. "Not only because of the win, but because there was a lot of open space to operate in."
On his second goal, Leclerc extracted the puck from the opposition, stick-handled his way past a defender, then put a hard shot on net, only to be thwarted. So he charged in and batted in the rebound for the Bandits' final score.
Leclerc had assisted on line-mate Chris Herperger's second-period goal to open the scoring, then added a goal later in the period to put the Bandits ahead 3-0.
Herperger also had two assists for the Bandits, who had lost four straight at home.
Playing their fourth game in five nights, the Amerks were slow to get started and, by the time they did, the game was all but decided.
"I can't blame the schedule," said Rochester coach John Tortorella. "Every team faces the same thing. But we haven't been playing that well lately and they jumped all over us.
"[Saturday] our goaltender [Frederic Deschenes] stopped 48 shots in a 1-1 tie in Albany. Today, the Bandits had five goals by the time they had 25 shots. Who knows why things happen?"
A win, a tie and a loss might not sound like a big weekend for a team, but considering that they came against some of the better teams in the league, it was big for the Bandits.
"Yeah, we work hard," said Leclerc. "But the real key was sticking to the simple stuff and cutting down on our mistakes. No fancy stuff, just get it deep and go fight for it. We were getting the puck out of our own end effectively all game, too."
A scoreless first period gave no indication of what was to follow in the next 20 minutes: Seven goals. The Bandits got the first three and, after Rochester retaliated with a pair, the home team all but put it away with Craig Reichert's power-play goal and newcomer Andrew Shier's first goal late in the period.
All the Bandits had to do to assure goalie Tom Askey of a win after yeoman work in net all weekend was mark a man and make sure the Amerks weren't allowed to set up shop in front of the Baltimore goal. Mission accomplished.
The Bandits' previous win, incidentally, was against Binghamton in a 10-1 beauty here Thanksgiving weekend, two days after beating Rochester up there. Long live the Empire State Division.
NOTES: Shier, a right wing, was called up from the Richmond Renegades of the East Coast Hockey League. Sean Pronger picked up an assist to extend his point-scoring streak to six games. The Bandits, 4-4-2 in their first 10 games and 3-7 in their second 10, were 2-7-1 during the third set. Former Bandit J. F. Jomphe had a pair of goals (within 13 seconds) in parent-club Anaheim's 5-4 victory over the Washington Capitals on Friday night.
(AHL standings, Page 6C)
Pub Date: 12/16/96