ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Alfie Turcotte made sure the long bus ride wasn't for nothing, but the Baltimore Skipjacks left the Rochester War Memorial Auditorium less than thrilled after a 3-3 tie in an American Hockey League Southern Division game last night.
"I guess you have to be happy with one point," Baltimore coach Rob Laird said after the second of five games scheduled this week, "but this was a very hard game for me to watch."
The Skipjacks were outshot, 38-21 for the game and 16-4 in the third period, as the Americans protected rookie goalie Scott Luce in his first AHL start. Goalie Jim Hrivnak kept the Skipjacks in the game with an excellent performance in the third period, especially when his team was a man short.
"We didn't know anything about Luce," Laird said. "We wanted to test him out. We were trying to get some shots on him, but that's easier said than done."
One thing they did learn was that Luce's teammates will protect him as if he's their little brother.
"As a team, we were all thinking that we have to play defense first," Rochester defenseman Don McSween said.
The Americans scored first on Jody Gage's 28th of the season, but the Skipjacks took a 2-1 lead at the end of the first period on goals by Tim Bergland (eighth) and Steve Maltais (28th).
Francois Guay tied the score for the home team in the second period with his 17th, and ex-Skipjack Bill Houlder and Turcotte exchanged goals in the third period.
The tie left the second-place Skipjacks (27-20-3) six points behind the first-place Americans (28-17-7).
"They're probably feeling pretty good about this," McSween said. "They're thinking, 'We played last night [Tuesday], bused all the way, took Rochester to a tie.' I don't think they should. If their goalie doesn't stand on his head, we win going away."
Hrivnak took a point-blank shot from Gage in the chest, stopped Guay at the side of the net, knocked the puck away in a scramble in front of the net and stopped Bob Corkum as he turned the defense and cut in front of the net.
With less than a minute left in overtime, the sprawling Hrivnak knocked the puck off McSween's stick as he broke in alone and tried to move the puck to his backhand.
"Thankfully, we had Hrivnak," Laird said.
The Americans had Luce because the parent Buffalo Sabres had called up Darcy Wakaluk and Dave Littman on the heels of an injury to Clint Malarchuk and Daren Puppa's illness. Littman was expected back in time for last night's game.
Luce's professional experience came in the East Coast Hockey League. He had been called up to the Americans as a backup earlier in the season, but had not played.
The Skipjacks never tested him the way Laird wanted them to, and the Americans had something to say about that.
"We never had a chance to execute," Laird said. "We were getting beat to the puck. They were a very good forechecking team. From the opening faceoff, we were on our heels."
Laird said this didn't look like the same Skipjacks team that defeated the Springfield Indians on Tuesday night, 8-4.
"I'm sure we showed signs of fatigue, but that's what life is in this league," he said. "Back-to-back games and travel." They left after the game Newmarket, Ontario, and tonight's game with the seventh-place Saints.
"We'll take our point and move on," Laird said.
After putting little pressure on Luce early in the first period, the Americans took a 1-0 lead on Gage's shot from the bottom of the right face-off circle.
Four minutes later, the Skipjacks tied the score when Tim Bergland one-timed a pass from Joel Quenneville past Luce.
Steve Maltais came from behind the net to stuff the puck past Luce to give the Skipjacks a 2-1 lead.
Guay tied the game on a rebound in the second period, and the Americans had the lead at 1 minute, 21 seconds of the third period when Houlder pounced on a rebound in the slot and fired it past Hrivnak.
The Americans suffered one of their few defensive breakdowns at 5:58 when they broke out of their zone before making sure they had control of the puck. Instead, Turcotte was alone, about 10 feet out, and beat Luce to the glove side to tie the score, but not really satisfy Laird.
"We're going to have to play a lot better against this hockey team, that's obvious," he said.
NOTES: Tyler Larter (13 goals, 15 assists, 28 points) sat out the game for Baltimore. . . . Thomas Sjogren (21-14-35) sat out his second consecutive game with an injury. . . . Jeff Greenlaw never really gave his three-game goal-scoring streak a chance to become four games. He was given a game misconduct for being the third man in during a scuffle at 5:52 of the first period.
Baltimore 2 0 1 0 -- 3
Rochester 1 1 1 0 -- 3