Coach Robbie Laird didn't need to put any extra pressure on the Skipjacks before last night's game against Springfield with a long-winded speech. There was already plenty of tension in the locker room.
The Jacks had lost three in a row and were about to face the Northern Division's best team before heading on a three-game, four-day trip to pivotal Southern Division cities.
"No one had to say anything," said center Tim Taylor. "We knew we just had to go out and win."
It took a little while to get going, as the Jacks traded three goals with the Indians over the first 30 minutes. But led by a tenacious offense, which had control in the offensive zone all evening and outshot the Indians 44-16, the Jacks dusted the Indians with five unanswered goals to notch an 8-4 win to take onto the bus heading to Rochester to face the Southern Division-leading Americans tonight (7:30, WLIF-AM 1300).
"We have a tough week ahead and it sure would have made for a long bus ride to Rochester if we didn't play well," said right wing Tim Bergland, who scored a pair of goals.
For the first time this season, Laird was forced to scratch three healthy players -- Thomas Sjogren, Tyler Larter and Vic Gervais. Some players feel the competition at off-day practices is at an all-time high just to win ice time.
"It's like training camp all over again," said center Reggie Savage, who had a goal and two assists in the scoring blitz on goalie Kay Whitmore. "You don't want your turn [to sit out] to come up."
Bergland concurred. "With the quality of guys we have sitting, if you have one bad night you might be out," he said.
But all in all it made for a better team last night, and surely the trio that looked on from street clothes will make a greater attempt to break back into the lineup before the trip winds its way home for a Sunday meeting with New Haven.
"Our lines are as good as they've been at any point this season," Laird said. "We've got good two-way production from our checkers and the scorers are making things happen even if they don't get a goal on every shift."
Left wing Bob Joyce, who has spent most of the year in Washington, said from what he's seen the offense is streaky but very dangerous when it's hot.
"It's kind of funny when this team starts scoring how it doesn't seem to hold much back," said Joyce. "It either gets a bunch or none at all."