Jacks aim to tie up Rangers

April 19, 1991|By Nestor Aparicio | Nestor Aparicio,Evening Sun Staff

The Skipjacks are counting down the minutes until they take the ice against Binghamton at the Arena tonight.

Down 3-0 in the AHL Southern Division semifinals just a week ago -- and left for dead in the minds of even their most ardent supporters -- the never-say-die Jacks have rallied to within one game of the faltering Rangers and can tie the series 3-3 with a win tonight (7:30, WITH-AM 1230).

"We never counted ourselves out," said coach Robbie Laird after his team's 5-3 win in Binghamton, N.Y., on Wednesday night. "Give our players some credit for having some perseverance and having some pride."

This time last week, Laird was talking about trying to retain even the slightest amount of respectability for his club by getting one win over the Rangers. Anything but an embarrassing sweep.

But tough play last Saturday led to one win, and that win led to another win. Laird says he wants that pattern to continue.

"Even down 3-0 we didn't feel like we were being killed," Laird said. "In my mind, any of those games could have gone either way with a few breaks at the right time."

Several of the Jacks have pointed to a post-game meeting eight days ago, following the third loss, that inspired the team to stave off elimination.

"We said, 'Either we can win and show a little pride, or we can lose and look like idiots for the rest of the summer,' " said left wing Jeff Greenlaw, who along with center Rob Murray has led the Jacks' forechecking assault in their two wins.

It is perhaps no coincidence that since this duo provided toughness in Game 4, the team has gained victories along the way. Murray was out for the first two games serving a suspension. Greenlaw was with the NHL Washington Capitals during the first three games of the series.

"Those guys, especially Murray, set an example for the rest of the team," Laird said.

"The other players feed off of Murray and he's really been an inspirational leader. He sacrifices the body and he'll do whatever it takes to win a game. Greenlaw's strength is forechecking, dumping the puck into the zone and going in there and digging it out. It's created offensive chances for us that we didn't have earlier in the series."

A win tonight would force a seventh game in Binghamton tomorrow night. If the Jacks somehow pull it off and advance to play Rochester in the division finals, they would be just the third team in AHL history to overcome a 3-0 series deficit.

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