Usually coaches cringe at the thought of earning a tie.
But considering the third-period situation the Skipjacks found themselves in last night in Moncton, New Brunswick, the 2-2 final was more than satisfying.
"I know it was only a tie but it sure feels like a win," coach Robbie Laird said today from Fredericton, where the Jacks will face the Canadiens tonight (6:30, WLIF-AM 1300).
The hard-luck Jacks outshot the Hawks in every period (44-33 overall), but somehow kept coming up short on the scoreboard.
In the first period, Laird said his team "dominated play," but a major misconduct handed to Steve Maltais for boarding defenseman Todd Flichel caused a three-minute power play. The Hawks didn't strike then, but got a goal from Kim Hankinson with 2:31 left to take the lead.
"It was a check no different than what happens a hundred times a night, but his [Flichel's] head was down and his face hit the steel divider that holds the glass," Laird said. "The referee talked to me afterward and the rules gave him no choice but to eject Steve."
The AHL rulebook states that if an injury takes place or if blood is drawn, the aggressor is automatically ejected.
Just 1:59 into the second period, Moncton's Denis Larocque scored off a draw to put the Hawks ahead 2-0. Minutes later, the Jacks' Tyler Larter took a shot on the left instep of his foot, leaving Laird with just two left wings to complete the game.
Somehow in the third period the Jacks (8-4-1) marched back on goals from Kent Paynter at 3:49 and Todd Hlushko at 11:49 to even it up.
"Up until that point their goalie [Mike O'Neill] was unbelievable," Laird said. "He stopped 30 shots before we got to him."
The Jacks got fine work in goal from Jim Hrivnak, a surprise starter who flew into Moncton from Quebec City, where the NHL Washington Capitals played Tuesday night.
"The idea of him coming with us had been thrown around for a couple of days but everything had to work out right," Laird said. "The big thing was for he and [regular Caps goalie] Mike Liut to stay healthy."
Hrivnak, who will play tonight in Fredericton, made 31 saves but was overshadowed by O'Neill's 42.
"I think this was another big character-builder for us," Laird said. "I give my guys a lot of credit for hanging in there when we had two left wings down and a couple of defensemen who were struggling.
"We went for the win in overtime but there weren't a lot of great opportunities for either team. We're more than happy just getting a point."
VS. FREDERICTON CANADIENS
* WHEN: Tonight, 6:30.
* WHERE: Aitken Centre, Fredericton, New Brunswick.
* RADI0: WLIF-AM 1300.
* OUTLOOK: The best news for the Jacks (8-4-1) is that goalie BTC Jim Hrivnak will start again tonight after making a surprise trip into Moncton last night. He will return to Washington after the game. Left wing Tyler Larter has a bruised foot and won't play tonight. Defenseman Mark Ferner is playing with a cast on his hand. Last night's line of Alfie Turcotte, Bob Joyce and Thomas Sjogren combined for 18 shots. The Jacks beat the Canadiens (8-6) on back-to-back nights three weeks ago at the Arena with stellar goaltending from Don Beaupre. The Baby Habs, in third place in the Northern Division, are led by rookie center Paul Dipietro, who has eight goals and six assists. Andre Racicot (2.99 GAA) has been strong in goal this year.