The losses and the injuries continue to mount on the road for the Skipjacks.
Last night's 3-2 loss to Cape Breton in Sydney, Nova Scotia, not only knocked the struggling Jacks out of first place in the Southern Division, but also knocked defenseman Mark Ferner and center Alfie Turcotte out of the lineup for tonight's game in Halifax.
"We're not getting any breaks up here," said Jacks coach Robbie Laird, whose team is 1-4-1 on the Maritime trip, which ends Friday back in Sydney. "Now it's down to trying to salvage a few points to stay in the hunt. What we need right now is to get home and to get healthy."
Turcotte, despite getting a goal and an assist, played sparingly, after experiencing severe leg cramps. Ferner suffered a slight concussion sliding into the boards, trying to block a Norm MacIver shot that beat Olaf Kolzig for the Oilers' second goal.
Kolzig, said Laird, has been one of the bright spots on the trip, despite losing two of three games.
"We've given him a chance to show what's he got and he's come through," Laird said. "Once again, he made some big stops when we needed them just so we could stay in the game."
Once Ferner went down early in the third period, the Jacks (9-7-1) again skated with just four defensemen, a trend that has been all-too-common in the Maritimes, where the temperatures hovered around zero and snow was falling last night.
"It hasn't been easy," Laird said. "[Last night] we had a bus ride that is supposed to be four hours and it'll probably turn into six because of the snow."
The game was scoreless after one period but the Oilers broke the silence early in the second when Peter Soberlak scored at 4:08. Turcotte answered for the Jacks at 9:26 with a power-play goal.
In the third period, MacIver gave the Oilers a 2-1 lead at 10:32 but Thomas Sjogren tied the game, again on the power play, at 14:30.
Just 1:04 later, the Oilers (5-6-2) got the winner from Shaun Van Allen on a rebound of a Dan Currie shot that neither Kolzig nor the Jacks' defense could clear.
"It's satisfying to know we're still in second place," Laird said. "But the way the teams are bunched up in the division, we're only [six] points from the cellar, too."
Utica (11-9), which has played three more games than the Jacks, is in first place with 20 points.
VS. HALIFAX CITADELS
* WHEN: Tonight, 6.
* WHERE: Metro Centre.
* RADIO: WLIF-AM 1300.
* OUTLOOK: The Jacks already have defenseman Rob Mendel (broken rib) and Kent Paynter (hamstring) out of the lineup and now Mark Ferner (concussion) and center Alfie Turcotte (leg cramps) have joined them. The team is 1-4-1 on the Maritime trip, which ends Friday in Sydney, Nova Scotia, against Cape Breton. After returning home for practices, the Jacks play in Hershey next Wednesday and Binghamton on Thanksgiving. The Citadels are led by Miroslax Ihnacek, who has 13 goals and 11 assists. Two of the team's top centers, Stephane Morin and Tony Hrkac, are on recall with Quebec.
-- Nestor Aparicio