BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- Pucks were flying all around Baltimore Skipjacks goaltender Jim Hrivnak in the final minutes last night.
But Hrivnak refused to wilt under the intense pressure applied by the Binghamton Rangers and made one big save after another, enabling the Skipjacks to live at least another two days in what has become an exciting American Hockey League Southern Division semifinal series.
Hrivnak stopped at least five Binghamton shots from point-blank range in the final nine minutes of the game, leading Baltimore to a 5-3 victory in Game 5 of the best-of-seven series.
It was the second straight win for Baltimore, forcing Game 6 tomorrow at the Baltimore Arena at 7:30 p.m.
The Rangers won the first three games and appeared to be on their way to a cakewalk against the reeling Skipjacks.
"They're asking themselves some questions now," said Baltimore defenseman Chris Felix. "They're probably thinking in the back of their minds that they still have Game 7 at home. I hope they are looking ahead to Game 7 right now."
If Baltimore wins tomorrow night, it would force Game 7 on Saturday back in Binghamton at 7:35 p.m.
Steve Maltais said of the Skipjacks' turnaround: "We've turned it up a notch and taken some of the momentum away. I think things started to swing for us in the first period of Game 4. We hadn't been playing that badly in the first three games, but we were always coming up a little short."
Maltais had one goal and one assist for the Skipjacks, and Alfie Turcotte contributed two assists.
Turcotte sprained his shoulder in the third period and had to leave the game, but he is expected to play tomorrow night.
Baltimore started off strong in the first period with two power-play goals for a 2-0 lead at 10 minutes, 42 seconds and never trailed.
But Binghamton came back three times to reduce the lead to 2-1, 3-2, and 4-3.
Binghamton right wing Steven Rice, who just joined the team from the New York Rangers on Monday, reduced the Baltimore '' lead to 4-3 at 11:02 of the third period with a goal.
That set the stage for Hrivnak's show down the stretch.
"The puck kept hitting me on the rebounds and I kept finding a way to keep it out of the goal," said Hrivnak. "But it wouldn't have been possible without the defense in front of me making the first saves. This has to make them [Binghamton] start guessing a little."
Hrivnak finally could breathe easier with eight seconds left in the game when teammate Bobby Reynolds scored on an open net to give Baltimore a 5-3 lead.
Reynolds said: "It was an easy goal. All I had to do was dump it in the net. Greenie [Jeff Greenlaw] did all the work. He got the puck to me by working hard along the boards and getting it past the referee."
After Reynolds scored, he was hit hard by Binghamton's Rob Zamuner.
Zamuner was called for slashing, and the Skipjacks are sending a videotape of the play to AHL headquarters.
Skipjacks coach Rob Laird said of the hit by Zamuner: "It was an unprovoked and vicious use of the stick. I hope the league takes action against him."
Hrivnak said: "I think he [Zamuner] should be suspended. I know he was frustrated over the goal by us but there is no need to react that way."