Bandits make 2-0 deficit, Phantoms disappear, 3-2 Three-goal second period, rookie Askey net victory


PHILADELPHIA -- Beating the Phantoms in the Spectrum this season has been roughly the equivalent of giving golfer Tiger Woods three strokes a side and making money.

So, Tiger, double or nothing tomorrow?

The Bandits fell two goals behind after a period. Perhaps the Phantoms thought they were on their way to a sixth consecutive win over the Bandits.

What a surprise they had waiting.

Three goals in the second period got the Bandits on top and

they held their slim advantage over the final 24 minutes to win, 3-2.

The Phantoms had won five in a row. Their home record was 23-3-2. In the five previous wins over the Bandits, the Phantoms had a 26-9 scoring edge. They were 19-6-5 in the Mid-Atlantic Division and their 36-13-7 record put them atop the American Hockey League standings.

The two-goal head start may have put the Phantoms to sleep against goalie Tom Askey.

"I just told myself, 'Stay loose. Keep talking to your defensemen. Make the simply play; forget the fancy stuff,' " Askey said.

"It was total commitment by the forwards, helping the defense out," coach Moe Mantha said. "Then the defensemen did a great job of letting Tommy see the puck."

Just as important: The Bandits did not creep into their defensive shell too early. "And don't think I didn't worry about that," Mantha said.

On a few occasions this season, the Bandits have attempted to hold a lead by rarely venturing to the other end of the ice throughout the third period. The "prevent defense" has failed miserably.

This time, however, they went right at the Phantoms until mid-period, then hunkered for the predictable onslaught.

On a few occasions, it appeared everyone in the City of Brotherly Love was crowded in front of the Bandits' net. "I could still see the puck, though, and I was able to stay squared up," Askey said.

It also helped that the rookie is acrobatic and has outstanding reaction time. He blanked Adirondack, 5-0, in his previous start.

The Bandits cruised through the first 10 minutes, not only matching the Phantoms but controlling the play. That's usually half the battle at the Spectrum.

Bruce Coles broke away for his 23rd goal at 11: 01 and, with just 18 seconds remaining in the period, he picked up his 24th.

The Bandits had to be frustrated with the 2-0 deficit, but they didn't show it.

Lengthy blasts by Jamie Spencer at 7: 31, Chris Herperger at 9: 59 and Craig Reichert at 15: 48 gave them the 3-2 lead.

Bandits tonight

Opponent: Kentucky Thoroughblades

Site: Baltimore Arena

Time: 7: 30

Radio: WWLG (1360 AM), WASA (1330 AM)

Outlook: The Blades have been staggering, enduring a nine-game winless streak (0-7-2) and winning one of their past five games at home. It would appear to be a good time for the Bandits to do something about their 0-7-2 record against Kentucky to date. After last night's victory in Philadelphia, the Bandits are 7-24-3 against the Mid-Atlantic Division.

Pub Date: 2/21/97

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