Bandits rally from 2 down in 5-4 win over Monarchs Five-game losing streak to Carolina is ended; lead now is five points

THE BALTIMORE SUN

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The Bandits rallied from two goals down after the first period to beat the Carolina Monarchs, 5-4, last night at the Greensboro Coliseum, expanding their lead over the Monarchs to five points in the Southern Conference playoff race.

The Bandits have been struggling to keep Carolina at bay in recent head-to-head matchups. The Monarchs had won five consecutive meetings between the two clubs but have been unable to catch the fourth-place Bandits in the Mid-Atlantic Division.

"It's a confidence builder for our guys," said Baltimore coach Moe Mantha. "A couple weeks ago when we were here, they beat us 12-1, then we come back to our building and they beat us twice in our barn."

The Monarchs looked poised to win again, taking a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by Craig Fisher and Ryan Johnson.

Fisher circled around the net to fire his own deflected crossing pass into an open net. Baltimore goalie Mike Bales had fallen outside the crease when he challenged Fisher's rush.

The Bandits had been 0-12-3 when trailing after the first period, but they tied it with two goals by David Sacco in the first three minutes of the second period.

"Up 2-0, I think we got too confident, probably thinking it was going to be a blowout," said Monarchs wing Gilbert Dionne. "You could feel it. We got too loose."

Igor Nikulin put the Bandits ahead 3-2 at the 7: 10 mark by one-timing a Bob Wren cross past goalie Kevin Weekes.

The Bandits added a fourth unanswered goal with 12 seconds left in the period when Craig Reichert ripped a top-shelf slap shot past Weekes.

Defenseman Drake Berehowsky got Carolina's comeback effort started, slipping a backhandthrough a crowd and under the pad of Bales on a power play.

The Bandits, however, put it out of reach when Wren bounced a shot from the slot off Weekes with 3: 42 left.

The Monarchs asked the officials to check Bales' stick with 2: 12 left. The goalie's stick was ruled illegal, and the Monarchs pulled Weekes to work a six-on-four power play. Dionne stuffed in a rebound with 25 seconds remaining.

Pub Date: 1/22/97

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