HALIFAX, Nova Scotia -- Last night's Skipjacks' loss was followed by a players-only meeting in the locker room, as team members apparently discussed whether they are playing out the string instead of going for the final Calder Cup playoff spot in the AHL Southern Division.
Skipjacks coach Barry Trotz left his players in the room more than 20 minutes to talk about a flat performance in a 7-4 loss to the Halifax Citadels. It was the third straight setback for Baltimore, which has 10 games left to catch the fourth-place Utica Devils.
Utica also lost last night, leaving the Devils nine points ahead of Baltimore.
Baltimore was never in the game. Halifax surged to a 4-1 lead just 7:45 into the first period, prompting Trotz to pull starting goaltender Olaf Kolzig for Byron Dafoe.
Trotz, who confirmed the players-only meeting and indicated the subject was playing out the string, said: "We didn't come to play. We win 4-2 if we come to play. Allowing five goals in less than eight minutes is unprofessional. It's not being prepared. We talked about it but we still came out flat. The point of being a professional hockey player is you can't come out flat."
Trotz said the five-goal spree by Halifax was not Kolzig's fault but he had to make a move to "buy time and maybe wake up the guys."
According to Trotz, "Halifax came out . . . and came right at us and we didn't give up much resistance. It takes something embarrassing to get us going and that's not right."
Martin Simard led Halifax with three goals, his first hat trick of the season and only the third of the season for the Citadels.
The Skipjacks got goals from John Purves -- his 35th -- John Byce, Chris Clarke and Ken Lovsin.
The game included an ugly incident at 18:07 of the third period when Halifax's Kevin Kaminski hit Byce in the face with an elbow and was called for a major penalty.
Kaminski said after the game that he was getting revenge on Byce for a high-sticking penalty for which Byce was called last Nov. 5 when he was playing for the Maine Mariners against the Citadels.
Byce high-sticked Halifax's Ivan Matulik in that game, resulting in 100 stitches to sew shut Matulik's nose. After the game, the Halifax players vowed revenge.
Trotz said of last night's move by Kaminski: "He tried to injure him [Byce]. I thought he [Kaminski] should have been thrown out of the game and he should be suspended. He went right for John Byce's face."