A four-goal surge in the second period last night propelled the Baltimore Skipjacks to a 6-3 victory over the Cape Breton Oilers at the Baltimore Arena.
The victory before the largest home crowd of the season, 7,965, was Baltimore's fourth in the past five Baltimore Arena games and enabled the Skipjacks to hold onto a share of first place with the Utica Devils in the AHL's Southern Division.
Simon Wheeldon scored two goals and Richie Walcott, John Purves, Brent Hughes and Reggie Savage scored one for the Skipjacks. Tim Tisdale scored two goals and assisted on a third for Cape Breton.
Jim Hrivnak had a big night in the Baltimore goal, making 42 saves.
"Hrivnak kept us in the game with his saves in the early going," said Wheeldon. "Cape Breton is a very talented hockey team and he did a splendid job against them."
"Hrivnak was the difference," said Skipjacks coach Rob Laird. "Cape Breton had seven quality scoring chances in the first period and Hrivnak shut the door on them. In the second period they had a two-man advantage for more than a minute [1 minute, 3 seconds] and did not score.
"Our penalty-killing unit was superb. We killed off nine Cape Breton power plays and we have now gone 16 power plays in two games without allowing a goal. I don't mind the penalties. We don't have as much talent as a lot of teams in this league so we have to make up for it with aggressiveness. As long as we're aggressive, we'll be able to stay in hockey games. If we have to take the odd penalty to achieve this, so be it."
"The first period was the key," said Hrivnak. "We held Cape Breton in check and then we scored three quick goals at the beginning of the second period to give us a big lead. They scored two goals early in the third period but that seemed to wake us up and we were all right the rest of the way."
The visiting Oilers, tied for second place in the Atlantic Division, outshot the Skipjacks, 13-9, and had five power-play chances in the first period but Baltimore left the ice with a 1-0 lead on Wheeldon's first goal of the game.
The Skipjacks scored three goals in a span of 1:49 in the second period, by Walcott, Purves and Hughes, to a grab a 4-1 lead. Reggie Savage's goal late in the second period raised the score to 5-1.
Two goals in 41 seconds at the start of the third period cut Baltimore's lead from 5-1 to 5-3 and gave the Oilers hope.
"It was a very satisfying win," said Laird, "especially in front of our biggest crowd of the season. Having all those people cheering for you is a big plus."
Cape Breton 0 ---- 1 ----- 2 -- 3
Baltimore 1 ----- 4 ----- 1 -- 6
First period--1. Baltimore, Wheeldon 13 (Purves, Bartley), 10:46. Penalties--Srsen, CB (interference), 2:38; Martell, Bal bench minor (too many men on ice), 3:36: Leroux, CB (hooking), 9:27; Vykoukal, Bal (high-sticking), 9:43; Borgo, CB (roughing), 13:16; Hughes, Bal (roughing), 13:16; Hughes, Bal (slashing), 19:14.
Second period--2. Cape Breton, Tisdale 4, 3:27; 3. Baltimore, Walcott 1 (Halverson, Taylor), 6:59; 4. Baltimore, Purves 12 (Duncanson, Wheeldon), 7:47; 5. Baltimore, Hughes 13 (Vykoukal, Hlushko), 8:48; 6. Baltimore, Savage 14 (Lovsin, Hlushko), 17:44. Penalties--Soules, CB (high-sticking and fighting), 5:28; Martell, Bal (high-sticking and fighting), 5:28; Walcott, Bal (elbowing), 9:19; Currie, CB major (spearing and game-misconduct), 10:40; Hughes, Bal (hooking), 14:43; Bartley, Bal (hooking), 14:52; Vykoukal, Bal (holding), 18:31.
Third period--7. Cape Breton, Leroux 4 (Borgo, Tisdale), 2:02; 8. Cape Breton, Tisdale 5 (Hawgood, Borgo), 2:43; 9. Baltimore, Wheeldon 14 (Duncanson, Purves), 18:09. Penalties--Van Allen, CB (unsportsmanlike conduct), 6:22; Hughes, Bal (slashing and unsportsmanlike conduct), 6:22; Duncanson, Bal (holding), 19:07.
Shots on goal--Cape Breton 13-9-23-45. Baltimore 9-9-9-27. Power-play opportunities--Cape Breton 0 of 9. Baltimore 0 of 4. Goalies--Cape Breton, Foster 9-6-0 ( 27 shots, 21 saves). Baltimore, Hrivnak 4-2-1 (45 shots, 42 saves ). A--7,965. Referee--Mick McGeough. Linesmen--Gary Madsen, Brett Parson.
Opponent: Utica Devils
Site: Memorial Auditorium, Utica, N.Y., 7:35
Radio: WFRQ (1010 AM)
Outlook: The Skipjacks will play the second game of a 3-game weekend set, which will end tomorrow against the Hershey Bears at the Baltimore Arena. Baltimore has split with Utica, losing the first game, 4-2, and winning the second, 4-3, both at the Baltimore Arena. Utica, coached by Herb Brooks, will be without D Tommy Albelin and C Neil Brady, both of whom have been recalled by New Jersey. Available will be D Petr Kuchyna and C Jon Morris, both on loan from New Jersey. The Skipjacks hope to have RW Bobby Reynolds (knee) and D Bobby Babcock (hand) available. RW Jeff Greenlaw has been recalled by the Washington Capitals.