HERSHEY, Pa. -- It was only a matter of time before the Skipjacks' sleeping giant awakened.
Entering last night's game, the Hershey Bears realized that the tandem of Tim Taylor centering John Purves and Steve Maltais would be the top scoring line, and, therefore, the line to stop.
With the team's leading scorer, Alfie Turcotte, back in Baltimore after his wife Suzanne gave birth to a baby boy Tuesday night, coupled with an already depleted roster (four injuries, two recalls to Washington), the Jacks were a decided underdog.
Making matters worse was a four-game slump the Taylor line was mired in, accounting for just five goals, all from Maltais.
But the rejuvenated scoring firm of Taylor, Purves and Maltais tossed in four goals and the makeshift line of Reggie Savage centering Thomas Sjogren and Harry Mews, who was imported from Hampton Roads of the ECHL to spell Turcotte, chipped in two more as the Jacks beat the Bears, 6-3, at Hersheypark Arena.
"I've always felt that the line had a great deal of potential," said Jacks coach Robbie Laird, who formed it in training camp. "They've been frustrated for a couple of games and all of a sudden it just clicked."
The trio was just happy to be back together. Maltais had been with the Washington Capitals for two weeks and Purves got the call when Maltais returned to Baltimore.
As soon as all three were together -- when the Jacks returned from the Maritimes last Wednesday in Hershey -- Laird was quick to reunite them.
The only problem since, according to Purves, was his lack of production.
"I'll take all of the blame for the way we've played as a unit the past week," Purves said. "You can't function properly when only two of the three guys are working. I've been out there skating around in a daze, away from the play all of the time. It wasn't like I was mad to get sent back, but I just wasn't into it.
"When I came back last week and played in Hershey, after not making the Maritime trip, I wanted to do so much and wound up doing so little," said Purves, who didn't score, but got a pair of assists last night. "Then you begin to put unnecessary pressure on yourself and everything goes bad. I made dumb plays. I finally gave my head a shake and decided to forget about it and everything fell into place for us as a line."
Maltais, who spent much of last season with the Caps and has been up and down three times, said he understands the transition.
"You don't want to make excuses but there is a period of adjustment," Maltais said. "But John's a pro. He'll admit he wasn't playing well, but we've all been getting a little lazy and it's about time we got into a game early on and kept it up."
Last night the teams scored four goals in the first eight minutes and were tied 2-2 after two periods. But once Savage scored 4:56 into the second period, the Jacks never relinquished the lead.
"It's very unsettling to have all of that offense early in the game," Laird said. "I was afraid we were going to get into another shootout," he said, referring to the Jacks' 12-5 victory over the Bears at the Baltimore Arena on Oct. 26.
All told, the Jacks got two goals each from Maltais and Taylor and one apiece from Savage and Sjogren.
Mews, the surprise of the game, was terrific, assisting on Sjogren's goal three minutes into the game and creating lots of opportunities.
"I was very happy with his play," Laird said. "He's going back to Hampton tomorrow because he was just here to fill in, but Harry Mews will be with this team before the year is over."