The Baltimore Skipjacks' games are becoming repetitive. They start games well, are slowed in the second period and then spend the third period trying to recover.
Lately, Baltimore has not been able to rally, ending up with a loss or tie.
Last night was no different, as the Skipjacks took an early lead, lost it in the second period and fell to the Rochester Americans, 4-2, in an AHL game before 3,252 at the Baltimore Arena.
The loss was the seventh in the past 10 games for Baltimore (1-7-2), which has not won at the Arena since Dec. 8, when it defeated Rochester, 2-1. The Skipjacks are 0-11 in games in which they trail after two periods.
Dave Littman was outstanding in the goal for Rochester, and Darcy Loewen, Bob Corkum, Pete Ciavaglia and Dave Bassegio scored for the Americans. Bobby Reynolds and Trevor Halverson scored for the Skipjacks.
"Rochester's first three goals were the result of their capitalizing on our mistakes," said Skipjacks captain Craig Duncanson. "Once they got ahead, we could not crack their defense. They played us tough. They clutched and grabbed and kept us away from the puck. This is January, and teams have started to adjust to us. The teams that play the more disciplined hockey are going to win. We have to get back to playing the way we did early in the season."
Despite the loss, the Skipjacks held on to a share of first place in the Southern Division with the Binghamton Rangers, who defeated the Springfield Indians, 4-0, last night.
"There was a big change in momentum in the second period when Bobby Reynolds' goal was disallowed," said Skipjacks coach Rob Laird. He cited a rule, 55-A, which states that if a puck goes off an official and into the goal, the score is disallowed.
Referee Lance Roberts was hit by a shot and knocked to his
knees on the goal line near the left circle. The puck caromed into the crease, where Reynolds knocked it into the cage for an apparent goal that would have given the Skipjacks a 3-2 lead. Roberts ruled that the puck went off him and into the cage, therefore no goal.
"Rochester came back with a short-handed goal [by Ciavaglia] and that seemed to turn the game around," said Laird. "After that, Rochester put a blanket over us on defense and we couldn't penetrate their zone.
"Each loss gets a little tougher, and we have to get back to playing the kind of hockey we did early in the season. This next week is going to be a very intense week of work for our players."
Ciavaglia said of his game-winning goal: "I got the puck and was all alone. All I did was get in close and put the puck on the net. We picked up our defense after that. It's hard not to win when you only give up two goals."
Littman, who made 25 saves and raised his record to 12-9-6, said he didn't let Baltimore's early goals get him down.
"You can't let early goals get to you. I refused to get down on myself, and I didn't let in another goal the rest of the way."
Rochester coach Don Lever said: "We tried to slow the game down. We got the matchups we wanted pretty easily. We win hockey games by controlling the team and we controlled it tonight."
The Skipjacks will be idle until Friday at 7:35 p.m., when they will again play the Americans in Rochester. Their next game at the Arena will be a week from tonight against the Adirondack Red Wings.
Baltimore has drawn 57,636 to 18 games at the Baltimore Arena this season, an average of 3,202. This ranks the Skipjacks ninth in the 15-team AHL. Rochester (5,870) leads the league and Hershey is second with a 5,282 average.
NOTES: The Skipjacks have recalled G Byron Dafoe from Hampton Roads of the ECHL and received D Shawn Chambers from the Capitals on reconditioning assignment. Hrivnak returned to action after missing a game with a bruised arm. Missing for Baltimore were D Mark Ferner (pulled groin muscle), RW Steve Seftel (knee), D Bobby Babcock (wrist) and RW Jeff Greenlaw (shoulder). . . . Rochester was without RW Jod Gage, its leading scorer, and G Daren Puppa, both of whom have been recalled by Buffalo of the NHL. Also scratched by the Americans were C Steve Ludzik, D Chris Snell, D Bill Houlder, LW Jiri Sejba and RW Bob Fleming. . . . Former Skipjacks D Kent Paynter and RW Bob Joyce have been recalled from Moncton by Winnipeg.