Skipjacks stop Canucks in OT, 2-1 Dafoe's 36 saves are the difference

November 07, 1992|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Staff Writer

Center Jeff Nelson's goal 1:16 into overtime lifted the Skipjacks to a 2-1 victory over the Hamilton Canucks before 2,806 at the Baltimore Arena last night.

Nelson banged home the winner into the corner after getting his own rebound, finally separating two teams that had played more than 126 minutes of hockey -- including a 5-5 tie last week -- on even terms.

Reggie Savage assisted on the game-winner, which came as the Skipjacks pressured Hamilton goaltender Troy Gamble from in close on their first push of the overtime.

Nelson's goal capped a tough struggle for the Skipjacks, who were outshot 37-24 and had trouble maintaining offensive continuity.

"Hamilton played a very sound game," said Baltimore coach Barry Trotz. "They were clutching and grabbing and holding us up, making it difficult to get things going."

The crucial point of the game arrived early in the third period when the Canucks had a two-man advantage for 1:39 and did not score against the Skipjacks' Byron Dafoe.

Dafoe turned back a breakaway, then made five more saves in a two-minute period that also featured a kick save by defenseman Brad Schlegel.

"No question that if they had scored there, it would have been very tough on us," said Trotz.

The Skipjacks (5-4-3) then had a two-man power play for 43 seconds and could not score. John Byce had Baltimore's best attempt of that advantage, but his shot hit the left post and caromed out rapidly.

Hamilton (2-8-1), a first-year AHL team, did not have a shot in the overtime and absorbed its fifth consecutive defeat.

"Dafoe was great for us. He was the difference," Trotz said of the goalie, who had 36 saves and was called up afterward by the Washington Capitals to be backup for tonight's game against the Hartford Whalers.

For the ninth time this season, the Skipjacks' opponent scored first when Stephane Morin converted 11:53 into the game. Eric Murano and Mario Marois got the assists.

The goal was the eighth for Morin, the Canucks' leading scorer.

But the Skipjacks got even near the end of the first period when Martin Jiranek knocked in his own rebound through Gamble's legs.

Jiranek took over the team's goal-scoring lead with his seventh following feeds from Schlegel and Tim Taylor at 17:37.

But the first two periods belonged to the defenses, as Gamble and Dafoe had relatively easy times.

Neither side converted on two power plays, a situation in which the Skipjacks rank as the second-most proficient team in the American Hockey League.

Baltimore had only 15 shots in the first two periods against a team that entered the game with four straight defeats and stood last in the Southern Division.

Hamilton is an affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks. The teams had skated to a 5-5 tie the first time they met, Oct. 31 at Hamilton.

Hamilton .1 0 0 0 -- 1

Skipjacks 1 0 0 1 -- 2

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