PHILADELPHIA -- The ebb and flow of hockey games is such that it's often impossible to zero in on a turning point.
This was in no way the case over the weekend as the Bandits were being beaten by the Philadelphia Phantoms twice, including last night's 7-1 mauling at the CoreStates Center.
The Bandits were doing just fine late in the first period after Ryan Sittler's goal had canceled out a goal by Peter White on Philadelphia's second shot at the 2: 35 mark.
Not only were the Bandits hitting and giving Phantoms goalie Neil Little all he could handle with a 14-10 shot advantage, they were quicker to the puck and alive. Until.
First, defenseman Jeff Lank, who can count his regular-season goals on his thumbs, was allowed to pinch in and pick up a score from in close, and, before the crowd of 13,577 was done celebrating, Philadelphia was on the board again on White's second goal of the night and third in the two games.
In 36 seconds, the Bandits went from thinking they were a pretty good bet to escape the weekend with a road split against the league's best team to wondering if they can avoid being swept in this best-of-five series when it resumes Wednesday night at the Baltimore Arena.
Saturday, the Bandits overcome early-game jitters, recovered from a two-goal deficit with a score and were getting their chances on a power play when a mishandled puck let Philadelphia's Shawn McCosh fly away alone for a short-handed goal. In both cases, the home team was easily up to protecting leads.
Adding to the disheartenment of the Bandits was starting goalie Tom Askey's being lifted after the first period. White's second goal from 25 feet was a softy, and the young goalie had looked shaky.
Things didn't improve a whole lot with recent import Mike Torchia. The Phantoms got the only goal in the second period while outshooting the visitors 16-9 and poured it on with their fifth and sixth goals within the first two minutes of the third period.
The main difference between this Philadelphia team and the one with most of the same cast of characters that performed in Hershey last year and which lost to the Bandits in the opening round of the playoffs is White.
Somehow the man who led the AHL in scoring while playing for Cape Breton two seasons ago (36-69105) found himself a free agent last summer. "I jumped for joy when we [the Flyers organization] signed him," said Phantoms coach Bill Barber.
White responded by playing all 80 games for the Phantoms, leading the league in points again (44-61105), scoring eight game-winning goals and logging 16 three-point games.
Pub Date: 4/21/97