Last night the youngsters on the Skipjacks roster found out that the legs give out a little more quickly at the professional level than they do in junior hockey.
After winning their first two games of the weekend, at home over Maine and in Utica, the Jacks hit the proverbial "brick wall" during the third period last night in Troy, N.Y., against the Capital District Islanders.
Down 3-2, but still playing well, the Jacks defense allowed the baby Isles several breakaways and various other chances to have target practice with goalie Jim Hrivnak.
The result: four goals and an easy 7-4 win for the Islanders.
"It wasn't just one or two guys," said Jacks coach Robbie Laird. "It was the whole defensive unit of the team. We had a lot of one-on-ones in our end where the forwards got in deep."
Despite the poor defense, the Jacks (5-2) managed 43 shots on rookie goalie Danny Lorenz, a flop goalie who has problems clearing the puck.
"We had plenty of chances but we didn't capitalize," Laird said. "He gave us a ton of rebounds but we weren't getting good second shots."
At one point in the final period, right wing John Purves missed an open net.
The Isles (3-3-1) didn't have that problem.
Hitting Hrivnak with 29 shots, the Islanders got a hat trick from rookie Travis Green, two goals from Shawn Byram, and one each from Jeff Jablonski and Paul Guay.
"Hrivnak didn't play poorly," Laird said. "The second goal [Jablonski's] was the only one I'd call soft. We just didn't give him any protection."
The three-game weekend was the first of seven this season. Laird said perhaps his team wasn't as prepared as it should have been.
"We certainly weren't overly enthusiastic coming into the building [yesterday]," Laird said. "But a lot of times in this league the team that is less tired will win." He mentioned Utica, which lost to the Jacks 4-0 on Saturday night. "We caught a club that was playing its fourth game in five nights coming off of the road so we may have gotten a break. They all even out."
The Washington Capitals jumped on the latest NHL bandwagon Saturday afternoon, adding their first Soviet player to the roster.
Defenseman Mikhail Tatarinov, a top-rated player with the Soviet Elite League champion Moscow Dynamo, will join the Caps today and is expected to play in tomorrow's game in Philadelphia.
Tatarinov, 24, was the Caps' 11th-round pick in the 1984 entry draft. He had 11 goals and 10 assists in 44 games this season.