Baltimore Skipjacks coach Rob Laird was livid after his team lost to the Rochester Americans, 6-5, in an American Hockey League game before 3,093 at the Baltimore Arena last night.
The reason for Laird's anger was that Baltimore twice had built three-goal leads, 3-0 and 5-2, in the first period, only to have Rochester score the last four goals.
How angry was Laird? Angry enough to close his locker room to the press after the game. When reporters tried to enter, he said: "The locker room is closed." For how long? "It's closed for all night."
Why did the Skipjacks blow the lead? "Rochester was a much better hockey team than we were in the last two periods," Laird said. "A couple of penalties, a couple of bad, soft goals and Rochester grabbed the momentum.
"We play well, then have a tendency to sit back and admire what we have accomplished. We have a lot talent on this team; there is no doubt in my mind about the talent. Sometimes I think it might be better not to have so much. With our talent, we seem to try to over-achieve."
Goals by Alfie Turcotte, Thomas Sjogren and Steve Seftel in the first 10 minutes gave Baltimore a 3-0 lead. Rochester rallied on goals by Darrin Shannon and Francois Guay to cut the difference to 3-2, but the Skipjacks retaliated with goals by Reggie Savage and John Purves for a 5-2 advantage.
Rochester received goals from Don McSween, Shannon and Bob Corkum in the second period to tie the score at 5. Laird pulled starting goalie Shawn Simpson and replaced him with Olaf Kolzig at the beginning of the third period.
Ken Sutton, during a goal-mouth scramble, scored the game-winner at 2 minutes, 6 seconds, and the Rochester defense did the rest.
"I changed goalies because I hoped the change would shake up our team and also because Simpson was having a rough game," Laird said. "I'm starting to run out of things to do to get this team motivated."
Rochester coach Don Lever said of his team's resurgence, "After the first period, we were believing everything we had read about Baltimore being a great hockey team. I don't think we were ready to play. We gave Baltimore too much respect in the first period. We were backing off and our first guy in the zone wasn't finishing off his check.
"We made a little adjustment and it worked. We took it to Baltimore in the second period, and they let up."
Baltimore, which lost its second in a row, held on to second place in the Southern Division because the first-place Adirondack Red Wings lost to the New Haven Nighthawks, 5-2.
Soviet Union native Dimitri Khristich, signed by the Washington Capitals this week, made his professional debut, skating as a left wing on a line with Turcotte and Savage for the Skipjacks.
Khristich had three shots on goal, one on a breakaway early in the second period. Rochester goalie David Littman thwarted the Soviet with a sliding pad save.
Was Laird happy with the Soviet's play? "No," the coach said. "He got short-changed on a couple of shifts in the first period because we were on power plays, so he didn't really have a lot of chances. But I was not impressed. I'm sure he'll come along, though, and be a fine hockey player."
NOTES: Most of the Capitals hierarchy was on hand, including general manager David Poile, coach Terry Murray and director of player development Jack Button. . . . Along with Turcotte, LW Steve Maltais rejoined the Skipjacks from the Capitals before the game. Both had been on recall for a week with Washington. . . . Rochester G Darcy Wakaluk is on recall with the Buffalo Sabres. . . . Three National Hockey League scouts attended: Marcel Pelletier of the Boston Bruins, Gordie Lane of the New York Islanders and Kevin McCarthy of the Philadelphia Flyers.
First period--1. Baltimore, Turcotte 10 (Greenlaw, Ferner), 2:00; 2. Baltimore, Sjogren 15 (Felix, R. Savage), pp, 5:32; 3. Baltimore, Seftel 9 (Murray, Greenlaw), 9:48; 4. Rochester, Shannon 8 (Haller, Biggs), 10:28; 5. Rochester, Guay 9 (Loewen, Frawley), 11:39; 6. Baltimore, R. Savage 15 (Turcotte, Lovsin), pp, 15:11; 7. Baltimore, Purves 10 (Maltais), 16:35. Penalties--Haller, Roc (hooking), 3:44; Frawley, Roc (fighting), 14:10; Babcock, Bal (fighting), 14:10; Ludzig, Roc (hooking), 14:48.
Second period--8. Rochester, McSween 3 (Shannon, Biggs), 0:25; 9. Rochester, Shannon 9 (Biggs), 6:59; 10. Rochester, Corkum 5 (McSween), 19:19. Penalties--Frawley, Roc (elbowing), 4:10; Taylor, Bal (holding), 10:44; Lovsin, Bal (holding), 13:53.
Third period--11. Rochester, Sutton 4 (Guay, Gage), 2:06. Penalties--none.
Shots on goal--Rochester 5-14-10-29. Baltimore 18-7-6-31. Power-play opportunities--Rochester 0 of 2. Baltimore 2 of 3. Goalies: Rochester, Littman 9-5-2 (31 shots, 26 saves). Baltimore, Simpson 5-2-0 (19-14), Kolzig 6-7-0, in at start of third (10-9). A--3,093. Referee--Mick McGeough. Linesmen--Gary Madsen, Jay Sharrers.