The Baltimore Skipjacks, getting a strong effort from rookie goalie Olaf Kolzig and their entire defensive unit, broke a seven-game winless streak with a 4-1 victory over the Binghamton Rangers before 5,559 yesterday at the Baltimore Arena.
The contest was a key one for the Skipjacks, who picked up two points on second-place Binghamton in the American Hockey League's Southern Division. Binghamton has 72 points, Baltimore 69.
Kolzig made 21 saves, as he earned his 10th win of the season and his first during this stint in the AHL. The rookie was recalled from the Hampton Roads Admirals last week to take the place of Jim Hrivnak, who was called up to join the Washington Capitals.
"I really felt good," said Kolzig, the Capitals' No. 1 draft choice two years ago. "This was a must win for us, and everybody dug down deep so we wouldn't lose again. The guys came through for me. They did a great job of letting me see the first shot, and they did a great job of clearing out the rebounds and clearing the players out of the crease."
Skipjacks coach Rob Laird said: "Kolzig was great. He made some very big saves early to keep Binghamton off the board. There were two key factors in our win: The Rangers took a lot penalties [Baltimore was two of 10 on the power play], and we did a great job of forechecking. We'll take the abuse if it will help us win games.
"We want to solidify our playoff position, and it was important that we start to win. When you're in a slump, everything you do wrong is magnified. This win should take a big load off our shoulders."
Alfie Turcotte, who had to leave the game after taking a shot to the right calf in the third period, scored a goal and had an assist. Kent Paynter contributed two assists, and Mark Ferner scored the game-winner. Tyler Larter and Jeff Greenlaw also scored for Baltimore.
"The shot hit the bone in my left leg, not my muscle," Turcotte said. "I think it should be OK. That was a very important game, a four-point game for us, we had been struggling and we needed a win to get us going."
Binghamton coach John Paddock said: "We didn't get the proper flow and rhythm in the game. On Baltimore's second goal [by Ferner on an assist from Turcotte], we should have won the faceoff. We're supposed to win faceoffs in our own zone. If we're not working, battling and grinding it out, we're not a good hockey team, and we were not very good today."
Ferner said: "It was good to get the win, but we knew that sooner or later we would come out of it [the slump]. We're too good a team to keep losing. Hopefully this will give us some momentum for our road trip."
NOTES: Washington Capitals general manager David Poile and Skipjacks coach Laird met for more than two hours in Laird's office before yesterday's game. Tuesday is the NHL trading deadline and also the day that playoff rosters must be made final in both the NHL and AHL. After the meeting Poile gave the Skipjacks a "pep talk."