The Maine Mariners got the best of the Baltimore Skipjacks twice in less than 24 hours, following up their 3-0 victory on Friday night with a 5-4 win yesterday at the Baltimore Arena before a crowd of 1,656.
At this time last week, the Skipjacks woke up with a 3-0 record and sole possession of first place in American Hockey League's Southern Division. This morning, they woke up in New Haven, Conn., with a 3-3 record and about to play their third game in as many days, against the Nighthawks.
"It's too early in the season to let a couple of losses get us down," said right wing John Purves, who had scored in three consecutive games before being shut out by the Mariners. "Let's face it, they [the Mariners] were a good team. We didn't know anything about them until we started looking at the matchups on the board. Once we saw how many veterans they had we knew it wasn't going to be easy."
Despite having Washington Capitals goalie Don Beaupre in the net yesterday, the Jacks couldn't keep the hungry Mariners forwards and their power-play unit away from the veteran, who was seeing his first regular-season action since April.
Beaupre reported to the Capitals last week after holding himself out of the preseason and the first part of the regular season because of a contract dispute that has yet to be resolved.
The Jacks have been routinely dressing just five defensemen, so it was double trouble for the home team when Ken Lovsin was given a five-minute major penalty for boarding and a game misconduct at 11 minutes, 14 seconds of the second period. The Jacks had to kill the penalty and then play the remainder of the game with four defensemen, two of them rookies.
"There's a new rule this year about checking from behind," said Jacks coach Rob Laird. "In my opinion, Ken just gave him a good shove and probably should have gotten two minutes for cross-checking. It sure put us a little thin on defense."
Defenseman Mark Ferner said: "It forces the four of us to play a lot smarter and not take any chances. If one of us gets called for a penalty that leaves three and you don't want that. It takes away from playing a physical game."
The game was tied 1-1 at that point, on goals by the Mariners' Jim Vesey and the Jacks' Bobby Reynolds, but the Mariners wasted no time taking advantage of the extra man.
Vesey, who got the eventual game-winner, scored the second of his three goals at 12:12, banging a loose puck past Beaupre in front, and defenseman Jack Capuano blasted one through Beaupre's legs from the point at 15:29, leaving the Jacks in a two-goal hole.
Beaupre did not make the trip with the Jacks to New Haven, but will train with the Capitals this week.
"It felt good to get back to playing," said Beaupre. "I didn't feel like I played badly. At least, I never felt out of position."