The physically punishing Maine Mariners held the Baltimore Skipjacks to their lowest goal total of the season Friday night. However, goalie Jim Hrivnak, who made 32 saves, and a solid defense rose to the occasion and led the Skipjacks to a 2-1 American Hockey League victory before 3,034 at the Baltimore Arena.
Hrivnak, who made several acrobatic saves in the third period, allowed only a power-play goal to the Mariners (3-3). The victory boosted Baltimore (4-1), which had been averaging five goals, into second place in the Southern Division of the AHL.
"Jim was solid in the goal," Skipjacks coach Rob Laird said. "He was there when he had to be, especially in the third period. He didn't get much work in the first period and sometimes that can be tough on a goalie, but he came through when it counted."
"I saw the puck well and my defense did a great job of clearing the puck in front of me," said Hrivnak, now 2-1. "They [the Mariners] didn't get many second or third chances."
Reggie Savage and Thomas Sjogren scored for the Skipjacks. Savage scored his fourth goal of the season in the first period, and Sjogren scored in the third period.
"I think the first period was our best period of the season," Laird said. "We forechecked well, moved the puck and played with intensity. We created a lot of scoring chances. Maine came back in the second period and played us even the rest of the way. That goal at the start of the third period gave us some breathing room."
Sjogren's second goal of the season, 28 seconds into the third period, gave Baltimore a 2-0 lead. Alfie Turcotte put a shot on goal that Maine goalie Mike Parson stopped. The rebound bounced out in the slot to Sjogren, the rookie from Sweden, who batted the puck, chest-high, into the cage.
Maine argued that Sjogren had used a high stick to score, but referee Rob Martell said the goal was legal.
"I just came down the slot and the puck was there," said Sjogren. "I hit it waist-high into the cage. It was legal all the way. I think I'm still learning. It's a big adjustment playing here and playing in Europe. But every game is an education for me."
"That guy [Sjogren] must have been a basketball player if that wasn't a high-stick goal," said goalie Parson. "He must have jumped through the roof to have his stick waist-high."
Bobby Gould, a former Washington Capitals right wing, cut the Baltimore lead to 2-1 scoring a power play goal at 10:02.
"Our defense played very well," said Skipjack defenseman Kent Paynter. "Hrivnak was strong in the goal. Maine is a very good team and we did the job against them. If it weren't for a little lapse on Tuesday [in the 3-2 loss to Utica], we could be 5-0."