Skipjacks optimistic down, 2-0 Hot goalie has hurt Baltimore twice

April 08, 1991|By James H. Jackson

The Baltimore Skipjacks are down, but don't count them out yet.

The Binghamton Whalers won the first two games of the American Hockey League's Calder Cup playoff opening round, 5-4 and 2-0, Friday and Saturday nights in Binghamton, N.Y. The best-of-seven series will move to the Baltimore Arena for games Thursday and Saturday nights.

Chief architect of the victories was goalie Mark Laforest, who made 35 saves Friday and 41 Saturday. It was Laforest's first shutout of the season and first in the Calder Cup playoffs since 1988, when he was with the Hershey Bears.

"We're up, 2-0," Laforest said, "and we're going into Baltimore and we're going to bang them. We're really going to take it to them."

But Rangers coach John Paddock said he expects a long series.

"We're up 2-0, but even if we were up 3-0, I'd still be concerned," he said. "We're going into Baltimore, and we didn't win a game there all season [0-3]. I still think this series will go seven games because Baltimore is a very capable hockey team."

The Skipjacks say they can turn the tables on the Rangers.

"This series is far from over," coach Rob Laird said. "The real test is ahead of us. Nothing is ever easy. I feel confident in our building, and the four days' rest will give us a chance to get some of our people healthy."

A key returnee will be center Rob Murray, who missed the first two games because of an AHL suspension. Murray will be back Thursday, and he adds a dimension to the Skipjacks with his faceoff ability and banging on the boards.

Defenseman Chris Felix, who was out nearly three months with a broken leg, played both games in Binghamton but was limping after Saturday's game. Center Alfie Turcotte, left wing Steve Seftel and center Tyler Larter returned from injuries before the games in Binghamton but still are not 100 percent.

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