The Skipjacks finally are on a winning streak. It may be a small one -- two games -- but it's still something that was missing for nearly two months.
Last night, before 5,415 at the Baltimore Arena, the Skipjacks defeated the Rochester Americans, 3-2, in an AHL Southern Division game for their second straight win after winning only twice in 21 previous games.
Ken Sabourin, Ken Lovsin and Reggie Savage scored for Baltimore. Savage's third-period goal on a nifty cross-slot pass from Simon Wheeldon was the clincher and gave the Skipjacks a 3-1 lead with 4:13 remaining.
"Sabourin made the play at the blue line," said Savage of his
38th goal of the season. "He saw Wheeldon in the right circle and started a two-on-one. Wheeldon made a great pass to me. He put it right on my stick and all I had to do was tap it in. It's nice to be winning again, and this makes hockey a lot more fun."
Goalie Byron Dafoe, playing his eighth game in the past 10, was outstanding, allowing two power-play goals by Jason Winch and Jody Gage. Dafoe made 39 saves to record his 14th win of the season.
"I think we're finally on a roll and have the monkey behind us," said Dafoe. "We are playing each game with new confidence. We had a great defensive effort. Rochester took a lot of shots , but most of them were from the outside perimeter, and my defensemen cleared out the rebounds."
Gage's goal with 3:30 remaining cut the lead to 3-2. Rochester pulled its goalie, David Littman, with 50 seconds remaining, but Dafoe and the Skipjacks defense thwarted the Americans.
"This was a very good effort," said Skipjacks coach Barry Trotz, who is 2-2-1 as head coach. "Dafoe played very well for us, and our power play produced a lot of chances. Rochester is a quality team, and holding them to two power-play goals is an accomplishment. Five on five, I believe we've been the best team in the last five games. In that period, we have given up only four even-strength goals."
The victory enabled Baltimore to remain six points behind the Utica Devils in the battle for the final Calder Cup playoff spot. Rochester is in second place in the division.
"When you give up power-play goals with five and 11 seconds left in periods it's pretty tough to win," said Americans coach Don Lever. "The Skipjacks played the hardest that I've seen them play all season. Dafoe was great in the goal. We've had a problem scoring even-up goals all season and it's getting frustrating."
NOTES: The Skipjacks recalled LW Randy Pearce (32 goals and 46 assists in 55 games) from the ECHL Hampton Roads Admirals. . . . RW Steve Seftel and D Chris Clarke missed last night's game with the flu. . . . The Skipjacks close out their regular-season schedule with Rochester tomorrow at 7 at the Baltimore Arena. . . . Former Skipjacks D Bill Houlder has been recalled from the Americans by the Buffalo Sabres and D Kevin Haller has been sent to Rochester by the Sabres.