Phantoms deserve top billing after beating Bandits, 4-1 Movie only relief for fans as Philadelphia romps


With 53 seconds remaining in the Bandits-Phantoms matinee yesterday, Ryan Sittler was awarded a penalty shot after being hauled down from behind as he closed in on the Philadelphia goal.

Quickly, the 4,208 in attendance at the Baltimore Arena, half of whom were there to view the post-game Disney movie, "D3: The Mighty Ducks," sprang to attention.

Sittler moved in from midice and put the puck on his backhand while moving left, but his effort was brushed aside easily by Phantoms goalie Neil Little.

So much for a happening often referred to as "one of the most exciting plays in sports." But though it was unsuccessful, the play still qualified as a highlight for the Bandits, who ended up being dominated by the Phantoms, 4-1.

The plain fact is, Philadelphia plays at a much higher level than the Bandits, as evidenced by its record (21-9-5), point total (49) and overall standing in the AHL (second). The Bandits are 12-21-3, have 27 points and are mired in the second division of the 18-team league.

Even with yesterday's victory, which gave them an 8-2-1 record this month, the Phantoms, who are 15-2-1 at home, still are under .500 on the road (6-7-4). Which raises the question: Is playing at the Spectrum that much of an advantage?

"We certainly look to make it that way," said Phantoms coach Bill Barber, who has seen his club bomb the Bandits -- 7-3, 5-1 and 4-2 -- at home so far.

When the parent Flyers moved across the street to the Core- States Center in South Philadelphia and the Phantoms moved in from Hershey a couple of months ago, Barber noticed immediately that all the championship and retired-numbers banners had been taken down from the Spectrum rafters. It didn't take him long to get replacements put up.

"We wanted to carry on and feed off the tradition of hockey in the Spectrum, and we wanted the players to realize that the torch was being passed on to them."

Yesterday, Philadelphia gained the upper hand quickly as former Bandit Steve King found the goal just after a minute and a half of action and Bruce Coles made it 2-0 before the middle of the first period.

Dan Trebil got a power-play goal for the Bandits late in the middle period, but Pete White scored his league-leading 22nd goal 38 seconds later, and it was time to pass the popcorn and start the movie.

Pub Date: 12/27/96

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