After more than two months of frustration, the Skipjacks finally appear to be on a roll.
Last night, their unbeaten streak reached three games, as Baltimore and the Rochester Americans played a 4-4 overtime tie before 2,931 at the Baltimore Arena.
John Purves, scoring his second goal of the game, tied the score at 4 with 1:32 left. Purves took a shot that was stopped by goaltender David Littman. However, in attempting to clear the puck, it went off Rochester defenseman Brad Miller and into the net. This forced a scoreless five-minute overtime period.
"We got the puck in deep, and I was trying not to let Rochester get the puck out of zone," said Purves. "Littman tried to get the puck up ice, and it went off Miller and into the net. The ice was bad, and Rochester was victimized by it.
"On my first goal, I was chasing the puck for the penalty-killing unit. I hit the puck and it bounced to the right boards. I jumped on it and took off for the goal."
Former Skipjack Lou Franceschetti's power-play goal at 9:41 of the third period broke a 2-2 tie. Franceschetti fired a shot from the right circle that goalie Byron Dafoe got a piece of but could not control, and the puck trickled into the net.
"Dafoe played another outstanding game for us," said Simon Wheeldon, who had an assist and ran his streak to 11 games in which he has had an assist. "He kept us in the game when we were struggling early. Sure, the tying goal was lucky, but it's about time we had some luck. We didn't play well by any means, but we came back in the third period.
"We said before this weekend began that our goal was to get four of six points. We ended up with five, which is a a bonus."
Dafoe made 36 saves, the third straight game in which he has made more than 35.
Reggie Savage, circling the goal from behind, lifted the puck over Littman to tie the score at 3 with 3:31 remaining. However, Ian Boyce scored on the rebound of a shot by Dan Frawley at 17:39 to boost Rochester into a 4-3 lead.
The tie enabled Baltimore to gain a point on the Utica Devils and Hershey Bears, both of whom lost, in the battle for the final Calder Cup playoff berth in the Southern Division.
"Some of the guys must have gone to church today [yesterday] because we got a little help from the man upstairs," said Skipjacks coach Barry Trotz, who is 2-2-2 as head coach. "Rochester did a great job of checking, cutting off our passing lanes, and we were sluggish the first two periods. Dafoe kept us in the game when we couldn't generate any offense early. It was kind of embarrassing getting only eight shots in the first two periods, and we seemed to be killing penalties all night [the Amerks were 1-for-7 on the power play]."
Rochester took a 2-1 lead into the third period, but Purves' short-handed, unassisted goal at 9:04 tied the score. But 37 seconds later, the Americans went back into the lead, 3-2, on Franceschetti's goal.
"We gave that one away," said Rochester coach Don Lever. "We outshot them, outhit them and outplayed them and then end up with a tie on a gift like that. But that's hockey. The puck takes some strange bounces."
Jiri Sjeba's breakaway gave Rochester a 1-0 lead midway through the first period.
NOTES: Last night's game started 30 minutes late because the afternoon performance of the Harlem Globetrotters ran longer than expected. . .. The Washington Capitals yesterday assigned LW Tim Bergland to the Skipjacks and then recalled him an hour later because RW Peter Bondra is out with a bruised shoulder. . . . Wheeldon leads the AHL with eight game-winning goals. . . . Geoff Howell, the voice of the Princeton University hockey team, broadcast last night's game in the absence of Kenny Albert, who is with the New York Islanders. . . . The Skipjacks scratched LW Bobby Reynolds, D Jason Woolley, RW Todd Hlushko and D Jiri Vykoukal. Woolley has a bruised ankle.
Rochester 1 1 2 0 -- 4
Baltimore 0 1 3 0 -- 4
First period -- 1. Rochester, Sjeba 19 (Gage), 11:30. Penalties -- Rubachuk, Roc (misconduct), 2:10; Purves, Bal (cross-checking), 2:10; Taylor, Bal (misconduct), 2:10; Purves, Bal (elbowing and unsportsmanlike conduct), 4:35; Franceschetti, Roc (hooking), 5:19; Rubachuk, Roc (slashing), 18:54.
Second period -- 2. Baltimore, Lovsin 9 (Wheeldon), 2:30; 3. Rochester, McSween 6 (Boyce, Winch), 15:37. Penalties -- O'Donnell, Roc (tripping), 0:29; Mathieson, Bal (holding), 4:22; Miller, Roc (fighting), 7:48; Ruff, Roc (high-sticking), 7:48; Halverson, Bal (fighting), 7:48; Taylor, Bal (high-sticking), 7:48; Rubachuk, Roc (slashing), 10:09; Babcock, Bal (roughing), 10:09; Walcott, Bal (roughing), 11:23; Sabourin, Bal (roughing), 12:36; Sjeba, Roc (interference), 13:11; Rubachuk, Roc (slashing), 16:14; Pearce, Bal (slashing), 16:14.
Third period -- 4. Baltimore, Purves 31, sh, 9:04; 5. Rochester, Franceschetti 17 (Brown, Sjeba), pp, 9:41; 6. Baltimore, Savage 39, 16:29; 7. Rochester, Boyce 3 (Frawley), 17:39; 8. Baltimore, Purves 32, 18:28. Penalties -- Wheeldon, Bal (slashing), 8:05.
Overtime -- none. Penalties -- Frawley, Roc (roughing), 0:38; Babcock, Bal (roughing), 0:38.
Shots on goal -- Rochester 11-13-13-3-40. Baltimore 2-6-9-3-20. Power-play opportunities -- Rochester 1 of 7. Baltimore 0 of 3. Goalies -- Rochester, Littman 22-17-8 (20 shots, 16 saves). Baltimore, Dafoe 14-11-4 (40-36). A -- 2,931. Referee -- Paul Devorski. Linesmen -- Matt Dunne, Gary Madsen.