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Hiltz's 7 help Thunder bounce Bandits, 22-15; Shearer adds five goals as team improves to 3-0


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Thunder continued its early-season roll through the opposition last night, when it downed the Buffalo Bandits, 22-15, before a crowd of 10,216 at the Marine Midland Arena.

Joe Hiltz led Thunder scorers with seven goals and two assists and Matt Shearer added five goals. Gary Gait and Rodney Tapp each chipped in three goals. Shearer also set up four goals, while Gait set up three.

This win -- the Thunder's third in three tries -- wasn't quite as breezy as the other two, although there were times it looked like it would be.

The Thunder romped to an imposing 13-6 halftime lead, fueled by Hiltz's five goals, and three by Gait.

Baltimore took control of the game with a decisive four-goal run in the final two minutes of the first period, which expanded what had been a slim 4-3 lead.

Paul Cantanbene set off the rampage at 12: 58, when he circled untouched in front of Bandits goalie Marty O'Neill, then beat him just under the crossbar.

Just 21 seconds later, Gait followed up by cashing in a lead pass from Hiltz.

Shearer mimicked Cantanbene's maneuver and made it 7-3 at 13: 49 of that period, which finished O'Neill for the night. Hiltz greeted O'Neill's replacement, Matt Disher, by scoring his fourth goal of the night with just two seconds remaining in the period.

Baltimore kept coming as the second period opened, when Hiltz scored goal No. 5 on a power play. The man advantage was handed to the Thunder when Buffalo's Chris Panos, whose rights were acquired from the Thunder for a first-round choice in a pre-draft trade, was penalized for roughing up goalie Chris Sanderson.

Sanderson, who made several key saves early when the game was still scoreless, was the player selected with that choice.

The lead later ballooned to 11-3 before Buffalo's Jamie Batley -- who played collegiately at UMBC -- ended the run after finishing off a breakaway.

In the third quarter, Buffalo closed to within 16-11 after John Tavares (five goals, five assists) whipped one past Sanderson from outside the arc.

Pub Date: 1/17/99

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