The Baltimore Skipjacks are, at the moment, tearing up the American Hockey League.
Baltimore stretched its winning streak to five, the longest of the season, and its home winning stretch to seven of its past eight by beating the Rochester Americans, 2-1, last night on two third-period goals at the Baltimore Arena.
The Jacks got goals from Simon Wheeldon and Todd Hlushko after surrendering a short-handed goal to Don McSween.
Rookie goaltender Byron Dafoe stopped 35 Rochester shots, including a penalty shot by Jody Gage with one second remaining.
Rochester pulled its goalie with 1 minute, 14 seconds remaining and added another skater with 50 seconds remaining when Brent Hughes was called for a high-sticking major. With one second remaining, referee Angus Blaine awarded the Americans a penalty shot when the Skipjacks goal was knocked off its magnetic moorings.
Gage took the shot and Skipjacks Dafoe stopped Gage with a pad save to preserve the victory. It was Dafoe's second save on a penalty shot in two weeks. He stopped one at Adirondack on Nov. 27.
"The first thing I thought of was the penalty shot I stopped up in Adirondack," said Dafoe, 7-3-0 on the season. "I made the save then, and I knew I had to stop their [Americans'] shooter because if he scores we go to overtime and we're down a skater. I just came out of the goal and challenged him, made him take a shot, and I was able to get it with my left pad."
Baltimore has the most wins in the AHL (16) and the most points (34) and stretched its lead in the Southern Division to six points over the idle Hershey Bears. Baltimore has gone seven games (0-for-32) without allowing a power-play goal and has scored 21 goals during its five-game winning streak.
"Our power play came through for us in the clutch," said Skipjacks coach Rob Laird. "Everything seems to be falling into place. But the night belonged to Dafoe. He was superb. He made big saves all night and then saved us with his stop on the penalty shot. Gage is a veteran scorer and Byron came up big for us."
Rochester broke a scoreless tie at 1:53 of the third period on Don McSween's short-handed goal. Steve Ludzik intercepted a Skipjacks pass at the blue line and fed the puck to McSeen, who beat Dafoe low and to the stick side with a slap shot from the top of the slot.
The Skipjacks tied the score at 5:04 on Wheeldon's goal. Wheeldon, scoring his 17th goal of the season, deflected a shot from the right point by Mark Ferner through goalie Bill Pye's pads.
Hlushko's power-play goal at 15:30 boosted Baltimore into a 2-1 lead.
Rochester 0 0 1 -- 1
Baltimore 0 0 2 -- 2
First period--none. Penalties--Corkum, Roc (tripping), 0:20; Rubachuk, Roc ( slashing), 11:13; Vykoukal, Bal (roughing), 11:13; O'Donnell, Roc (roughing), 16:03; Loewen, Roc (roughing), 18:54; Hughes, Bal (roughing), 18:54; O'Donnell, Roc (roughing), 19:50; Ludzik (roughing), 19:50; Halverson, Bal (roughing), 19:50; Mathieson, Bal (roughing), 19:50; Martell, Bal (tripping), 20:00.
Second period: none. Penalties--Snell, Roc (tripping), 0:37; Loewen, Roc (high- sticking), 3:01; Martell, Bal (elbowing) 5:15; Snell, Roc (holding), 7:11.
Third period--1. Rochester, McSween 3 (Ludzik), sh, 1:53; 2. Baltimore, Wheeldon 17 ( Ferner, Hughes), pp, 5:04; 3. Baltimore, Hlushko 9 (Vykoukal, Clarke), pp, 15:30. Penalties--Gage, Roc (tripping), 0:56; Frawley, Roc (slashing), 4:51; Lovsin, Bal (hooking), 9:58; Gage, Roc (hooking), 11:22; Savage, Roc (high- sticking), 13:57; Hughes, Bal major (high-sticking, game misconduct), 19:10.
Shots on goal--Rochester 12-9-15-36. Baltimore 10-6-9-25. Power-play opportunities--Rochester 0 of 4. Baltimore 2 of 9. Goalies--Rochester, Pye 0-2-0 (25 shots, 23 saves). Baltimore, Dafoe 7-3-0 (36-35). A--2,403. Referee--Blaine Angus. Linesmen--Matt Dunne, Rich Zerbe.