A bouncing puck with 1 minute, 24 seconds remaining in regulation that Skipjacks goalie Jim Hrivnak could not handle last night lengthened Baltimore's winless streak to five games.
With the Skipjacks leading by a goal before 5,826 at the Baltimore Arena last night, Hershey's Darren Rumble took a shot from the left circle that found daylight through Hrivnak's pads and forced a five-minute scoreless overtime period and produced a 4-4 AHL tie.
"If I took that shot 100 times it shouldn't go in the goal any time," said Rumble. "I just wanted to keep the puck in the offensive zone. Everybody was in front of the goal, and I just tried to put the puck on goal. I guess you could say I got lucky."
Rumble's good luck was bad luck for the Skipjacks, who haven't won since Dec. 13 at Binghamton, N.Y., when they beat the Rangers, 6-2. Despite the five-game winless streak, the Skipjacks continue to lead the Southern Division, two points in front of second-place Hershey.
Hershey and Baltimore meet again tomorrow in the Hersheypark Arena. The 16- game seasonal series between the two teams is tied, 2-2-2.
"Rumble's goal was a big break for us," said Hershey coach Mike Eaves. "But we had talked before and the point had been made that we had to put the puck on goal.
"We did some good things, but on the downside was our penalty-killing. Much to Baltimore's credit, they kept the power play simple."
The Skipjacks scored on three of five power-play chances. Brent Hughes, Reggie Savage and Simon Wheeldon scored power-play goals for Baltimore and Chris Clarke scored an even-strength goal. Martin Hostak and Rumble had one each and Chris Jensen scored twice for Hershey. Bobby Reynolds and Jiri Vykoukal had two assists for the Skipjacks.
"This tie feels like a loss," said Skipjacks coach Rob Laird. "It's little consolation that we got a point out of it. We did some good things, especially on the power play. We moved the puck well and created a lot of chances. We came out assertive.
"The tying goal came on a freaky bounce. I didn't see it and I haven't been able to talk to Jimmy [Hrivnak] about it."
Hrivnak and the rest of his teammates were on the ice for more than 40 minutes after the game signing autographs and talking to fans.
The Skipjacks entered the third period with a 3-2 lead, but Hershey tied the score at 1:48 on Jensen's second goal of the game. Baltimore regained the lead at 2:31 as Clarke, steaming through the slot, scored on a feed from Reynolds.
It was a continuation of the first period, when the Skipjacks and Bears traded goals en route to a 2-2 tie.
Baltimore scored first as Hughes knocked the rebound of a shot from the point by Vykoukal past Hershey goalie Dominic Roussel at 3:19 during a power play.
Hostak tied the score for the Bears at 11:41 when Skipjacks defenseman Mark Ferner fell on the bad ice behind the Baltimore goal and lost the puck. Rod Dallman fed Hostak, who was left unguarded in the slot, and he lifted the puck over Hrivnak's left shoulder.
The Skipjacks regained the lead on Savage's 23rd goal of the season and his seventh in six games against Hershey. Savage, during a power play, deflected a shot from the point by Vykoukal past Roussel at 18:19.
The lead was short-lived, however, as Jensen took a pass from Rumble and beat Hrivnak from the left post at 19 minutes.
Baltimore's third power-play goal of the game, at 3:25 of the second period, gave the Skipjacks a 3-2 lead. Ferner fired a slap shot from the right point and Wheeldon, cutting across the slot, knocked the rebound past Roussel.
NOTES: C Mark Freer and LW Claude Boivin are on recall with the Philadelphia Flyers and Hershey also played without D Toni Porkka (foot), D Steve Morrow (back) and G Marc D'Amour (wrist). . . . The Skipjacks were missing LW Steve Seftel (knee), LW Craig Duncanson (ankle), RW Jeff Greenlaw (shoulder) and D Bobby Babcock (wrist). . . . Gordon Broseker, an NHL linesman who is recuperating from knee surgery, acted as supervisor of officials last night. . . . The Skipjacks' crowd last night raised the home attendance to 55,311 for 17 games, an average of 3,253.