The Baltimore Skipjacks ran their unbeaten streak to four last night by defeating the Newmarket Saints, 7-4, before 4,295 at the Baltimore Arena.
The victory, Baltimore's third plus a tie in the past four games, pulled the second-place Skipjacks within one point of the Rochester Americans in the American Hockey League's Southern Division. Rochester lost to the Springfield Indians, 5-4.
Tim Bergland, assigned to Baltimore by the Washington Capitals on Thursday, paid dividends quickly by scoring two goals and assisting on another.
"Tim was good, very good," Skipjacks coach Rob Laird said. "He is a good two-way player. He has the ability to score goals, and he also goes into the corners and gets the puck.
"I really liked the line of Bergland, Steve Maltais and Tim Taylor. They were our top offensive line. The line of Rob Murray [assigned by Washington along with Bergland], Jeff Greenlaw and Steve Seftel played Newmarket's top line and did a great job of shutting it down. I thought all three of our lines played extremely well."
Maltais added two goals and two assists, scoring a goal for the first time in the past 12 games.
"It was a great feeling to score again," Maltais said. "The one good thing about my streak was that we were still winning. If we had been losing and I hadn't been scoring, it would have been very tough to take, but that's a thing of the past and I can look to the future."
Maltais said he was pleased with the matchup of himself, Taylor and Bergland on the same line. "Some guys, when they are sent down [from the National Hockey League], mope and feel sorry for themselves," he said. "Bergland isn't like that. He comes to play every night. We worked extremely hard tonight and it paid off."
Taylor had a goal and three assists, Alfie Turcotte and Mark Ferner had two assists each, and Thomas Sjogren had a goal and an assist. Steve Seftel also scored a goal for Baltimore.
Jim Hrivnak, out since Nov. 24 with a knee injury, started in goal for the Skipjacks and made 27 saves.
"I felt good," Hrivnak said. "My knee didn't have any tenderness at all. I thought I played well, even though I did give up a couple of soft goals. One got over my shoulder and the other under may pads. But I'm telling myself that this happens when you haven't played in a game in so long.
"It was nice to get all that offense. I told the guys before the game that they had better score a lot of goals for me. They laughed. But I'm glad they scored the goals."
Baltimore put 43 shots on starting Newmarket goalie Bob Horyna and scored seven goals. He was removed in favor of Damian Rhodes at 10 minutes, 47 seconds of the third period.
Gilles Thibaudeau, Greg Walters, Steve Spott and Greg Johnston scored for Newmarket.
"We looked real strong, offensively and defensively," Laird said. "We also got positive results from our power play, scoring on our first two chances, and looked good in doing it.
"We have some momentum now, with four games without a loss, and it's a great way to start the second half of the season. We have a week off to get some people healthy, do a lot of conditioning and hold some team meetings. We're in a very good position, but we have to improve. The team that improves the most over the last 40 games will win the Calder Cup, and that's our ultimate goal."
Newmarket 2---1---1- ---4
Baltimore 3---2---2- ---7
First period--1. Newmarket, Thibaudeau 9 (Shannon, Johnston), pp, 6:27; 2. Baltimore, Sjogren 18 (Turcotte, Ferner), pp, 8:11; 3. Baltimore, Seftel 11 (Turcotte, Sjogren), pp, 11:32; 4. Newmarket, Spott 3 (Hulst, Stevens), 13:32; 5. Baltimore, Maltais 20 (Ferner, Taylor), 18:05. Penalties--Quenneville, Bal (cross-checking), 5:54; Hulst, New (hooking), 7:38; Reynolds, New (holding), 10:35; Quenneville, Bal (tripping), 15:45.
Second period--6. Newmarket, Johnston 18 (Walters), 3:57; 7. Baltimore, Bergland 1 ( Maltais, Taylor), 4:43; 8. Baltimore, Taylor (Bergland, Hlushko), 12:51. Penalties--Root, New (interference), 7:20; Stevens, New (unsportsmanlike conduct ), 7:20; Babcock, Bal (unsportsmanlike conduct), 7:20; Sjogren, Bal tripping), 7:42; Vykoukal, Bal (holding),10:22.
Third period--9. Baltimore, Bergland 2 (Maltais), 1:09; 10. Baltimore, Maltais 21 ( Taylor, Savage), 7:44; 11. Newmarket, Walters 5 (Thibaudeau, Johnston), 13:45. Penalties--none.
Shots on goal--Newmarket 12-8-11-31. Baltimore 22-9-17-48. Power-play opportunities--Newmarket 1 of 4. Baltimore 2 of 3. Goalies--Newmarket, Hornya 6-4-2 (43 shots, 36 saves), Rhodes, in at 10:47 of the third (5-5). Baltimore, Hrivnak 5-4-1 (31-27). A--4,295. Referee--Dave Jackson. Linesmen--Matt Dunne, Gary Madsen.