ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- For Skipjacks goalie Jim Hrivnak, the difference between last night's 3-1 victory over Rochester and the 6-4 loss he suffered the previous week at the hands of the Americans was a matter of a bounce or two.
"I don't where I really played that much different tonight than last week," Hrivnak said after providing 36 saves, and 58 minutes of shutout goaltending, to give the Jacks their first victory since Dec. 13 and return them to sole possession of first place. "I saw the puck just as well last week, but the luck went our way this time."
With the help of three power plays that took up nine minutes of last night's first 17 minutes, Hrivnak almost could have taken the first period off. The Americans didn't put a shot on goal for 12 1/2 minutes.
Five of those power-play minutes came after just 52 seconds, when Rochester's Brad Rubachuk drew a major penalty for slashing Trevor Halverson, and a game misconduct as well.
A little more than a minute later, the Skipjacks' Simon Wheeldon put in his 20th goal of the season. He skated into the slot, took a pass from John Purves and fired the puck past goalie Bill Pye into the lower right corner of the net.
"That power play gave us a lot of momentum," Wheeldon said. "We'd been sloughing off a little bit on the power play. But with Brent Hughes and John Purves always in the corner getting the puck to me on the power play, that helped a lot."
Despite a 13-4 advantage in shots and another seven-plus minutes of power play, Baltimore couldn't score again in the first period.
After that, the game was virtually all Rochester. The Americans peppered Hrivnak with 16 shots in the second period and 17 in the third, but they weren't able to score until they pulled their goalie in the game's last 2:40.
"I'm glad it happened," said Hrivnak. "After facing only four shots in the first period, I didn't want to get stale. I think in the second period when I stopped their power plays was a big part of the game. I made a glove save on a shot from the top of the circle, and then I stopped a point-blanker [by Joel Savage] when I was lying on my side. I was a little lucky there.
"Then scoring our second goal in the third period really clinched it."
Wheeldon's second goal of the night took much of the pressure off Hrivnak.
"It was sort of a broken play at the red line," Wheeldon said of his score at 5:38 of the third period. "Then [defenseman] Don McSween tripped and got out of position on the corner. I was able to squeak through and come around the corner of the net and put it in."
Rochester scored at 18:11 of the third period, when a shot by Jody Gage deflected off a defender and past Hrivnak. With Pye back out of the net, Purves clinched the victory at 19:02 by blasting in his 20th goal from the right faceoff circle.
Hrivnak said he wasn't disappointed about not getting the shutout.
"When you go six games in a row without a win [0-5-1], you just want a win," he said. "I'm a team player. Besides, there's no bonus clause for shutouts in my contract."