What else can explain the near monumental pratfall the Bandits suffered in front of their largest and most enthusiastic crowd of the season yesterday?
No doubt taken aback when they emerged from the locker room to a tumultuous greeting from a crowd of 7,298 at Baltimore Arena for a combined game and Bandits Youth Cheerleading Invitational, the home team quickly took up a position four goals behind Hershey and ended up getting beat, 4-0.
The game ended the season series between the teams, with the Bears owning a 7-2-1 advantage.
Similar to Thursday night, when they were clubbed by the Philadelphia Phantoms, 6-2, the Bandits were guilty of all manner of mistakes early and paid dearly. The Bears' first three goals, accomplished in little more than the first 10 minutes of action, came on power plays.
Pascal Trepanier followed goals by Josef Marha (16), Rob Shearer (10) and Blair Atcheynum (34) with his 10th goal at the 14: 32 mark of the first period and the visitors just sat on the lead the rest of the afternoon.
That left the Bandits to point out how they controlled much of the play after the goal onslaught, but there was no doubt Hershey was simply relaxing on its cushion and concentrating on defense.
"[J. F.] Labbe did a good job holding the lead in the second period [when the Bears were outshot 21-3]," Hershey coach Bob Hartley said, "and, in the third period, we shut down the game like we can do."
All told, Labbe faced 42 shots while registering his fifth shutout in 43 games, but he hardly made it sound like a herculean feat: "Actually, it was pretty easy. I saw every shot and when that happens you can challenge. It also means you shouldn't leave any rebounds."
Bandits coach Moe Mantha, noting that Carolina is closing in on his club in the battle for the fourth playoff spot in the division and is home to Binghamton twice this weekend, said: "It doesn't get any easier even after facing two first-place teams [Philadelphia and Hershey]. Adirondack [tomorrow night's foe] is hot, then we go to Philly.
"We gotta get some guys back on defense, then maybe we can get away [from Carolina] a bit."
NOTES: The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders were on hand, entertaining. After they had done a couple of dance routines on ** the stage during the intermissions, Mantha told his defensemen, "Skate around the net and move the air, get rid of the perfume smell, make it smell like hockey." When Labbe picked up an assist on his team's second goal, it was the second time in the last three games the opposing goalie had scored against the Bandits. Bob Wren's nine-game scoring streak (16-7-13) ended.
Pub Date: 2/16/97