Skipjacks can't win for trying

March 02, 1992|By James H. Jackson | James H. Jackson,Staff Writer

HERSHEY, Pa. -- For the Skipjacks, some things change, while others remain the same. Baltimore changed its coach and several players in the past week, but the changes have failed to end their winless streak.

Last night, before 5,215 at the Hersheypark Arena, Len Barrie's second goal of the game broke a 4-4 tie and gave Hershey a 5-4 AHL Southern Division victory.

Barrie, standing five feet out in the slot, slammed a cross-ice pass from Tim Tookey past goalie Byron Dafoe and the Skipjacks had another loss.

The Skipjacks' winless streak stretched to eight (0-6-2) and they remained winless in Hershey (0-6-1) this season. They are 2-16-3 in their past 21 games. Barry Trotz is 0-2-1 as coach since replacing Rob Laird last Monday.

Hershey had surged to a 4-2 lead in the second period on four power-play goals, but Baltimore rallied to tie the score on Ken Lovsin's goal on a shot from the top of the right circle at 3:29 of the third period. Rookie Hershey goalie Nick Vitucci got his arm pad on the shot but could not keep the puck from getting into the net.

"I was happy with the way we forechecked and thought we were the better team, five on five," said Trotz. "The special teams killed us. We made some bad decisions and Hershey has a good power-play unit. They really move the puck around. I saw a lot of positives. We got beat on a good play by Tookey and Barrie.Tookey always seems to find a way to beat us. But I can see improvement. We played better and we are making some headway. We're going to be a better team. We usually look pretty awful in Hershey and I don't think we looked that bad tonight [last night]."

The victory was Hershey's fifth in the past six games and enabled the Bears to hold onto third place in the Southern Division. The Bears ran their home unbeaten streak to 12 (10-0-2). Baltimore is in last place, eight points out of the last playoff spot.

Barrie and Pat Murray had two goals each and Tookey had a goal and an assist. Todd Hlushko and Simon Wheeldon each had a goal and an assist for the Baltimore and rookie Brad Schlegel had his first assist.

"Hershey made us pay on the power play and that was the difference," said Schlegel. "I wasn't thinking about scoring. All I wanted to do was help us win the game. I just want to work hard and contribute. The biggest adjustment has been the size of the rinks. There is a lot less ice here than in the Olympics."

Vitucci, who was playing for the ECHL Greensboro Monarchs and was signed by Hershey to a tryout contract Saturday, was outstanding in the goal making 37 saves in his AHL debut.

"Vitucci had a solid performance," said Hershey coach Mike Eaves. "We needed a performance like that because we were playing a hungry Baltimore team that threw a lot of shots [41] at us. Our power play [four for six] was successful because we caught Baltimore by moving through their defensive box."

Vitucci said: "I was a little nervous at first and worried about what the team thought of me. I started feeling confident as the game went along and I think the team could sense that. Everyone is so much quicker in this league and the passes are so accurate that there is no time for mistakes."

Barrie said: "It seems like we are on a roll. My goal was the result of great play by Tookey. He must have eyes in the back of his head. He was on the other side of the goal with his back to me and put the puck right on my stick."

The Skipjacks outscored the Bears, 2-1, in the first period. Hlushko, displaying excellent stick-handling, skated in the from the blue line and beat Vitucci from close range, 2:12 after the opening faceoff.

Murray tied the score for Hershey with a power-play goal four minutes later, tapping in a cross-slot pass from Hostak past Dafoe. The Skipjacks regained the lead two minutes later when Wheeldon took the puck away from Jamie Cooke in the right circle and jammed the puck past Vitucci.

Three power-play goals in the first six minutes of the second period pushed the Bears into a 4-2 lead. Tookey scored at 1:17 to tie the game; Murray scored his second goal of the game at 4:49; and Barrie scored at 5:39.

Ken Sabourin's first goal at 7:40 cut the Bears' lead to 4-3. Sabourin's goal came on a slap shot from the right point that went through Vitucci's pads.

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