Dafoe, Skipjacks win 3rd straight, 5-3

January 11, 1993|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Staff Writer

Skipjacks goalie Byron Dafoe not only had an encore in mind. He had two.

After missing 20 games with a badly sprained ankle, Dafoe returned Friday night to stop the Hershey Bears, 7-2, after sailing into the third period with a shutout. Saturday, he turned back the New Haven Senators, 5-2.

Dafoe and the Skipjacks won their third straight last night, beating New Haven again, this time 5-3 before 1,417 at the Baltimore Arena.

"Byron did more than we expected," assistant coach Paul Gardner said. "We hoped he'd be able to play two of the three games. But he played so well, we let him play all three, and he kept on a roll."

Dafoe was quick to point out that the team gave him generous support. For one thing, the Skipjacks erupted for seven goals against Hershey. For another, he never faced more than 30 shots in any of the three games.

"That's a tribute to the defense," Dafoe said. "I wasn't tested that much throughout the weekend, but I did feel solid."

During his recovery from the sprain, Dafoe was able to skate again in a few weeks. What he couldn't do was go down to stop a shot in the "butterfly stance," on both knees with legs turned out, putting pressure on the ankles.

"I couldn't do that for five weeks," Dafoe said. "That's why I was out so long."

In their past four games, the Skipjacks are 3-0-1. They lead the Senators in the season series by the same 3-0-1 count.

The victory capped a 5-0 weekend in the building by the Arena's three winter sports tenants. The Thunder beat the Boston Blazers, the Spirit beat the Cleveland Crunch and the Skipjacks swept their three weekend games. The Spirit lost once, but it was at Buffalo.

The Skipjacks strengthened their hold on third place in the AHL's Southern Division, moving three points ahead of the idle fourth-place Utica Devils. New Haven, of the Northern Division, is the only AHL team that hasn't reached double figures in wins.

The Skipjacks cruised into the third period with a seemingly comfortable 4-1 lead. Then, within 98 seconds, New Haven inched within 4-3 on goals by Blair Atcheynum and Tony Cimellaro.

The Skipjacks, and Dafoe, hung onto that edge until Trevor Halverson scored the game's final goal with 1:04 left.

NOTES: Although Tim Taylor, Chris Longo and Rob Leask have been playing well, they did not dress for last night's game. "Just a matter of getting some fresh legs in there," coach Barry Trotz said, adding that Martin Jiranek, Darren McAusland and Jim Mathieson would play instead. Jiranek and McAusland had missed the previous three games and Mathieson sat out Saturday's. After Saturday's victory over New Haven, Gardner indicated that, in Jiranek's case, there might be a deeper reason for holding him out of the three games. In response to a fan's question about why Jiranek hadn't played, Gardner said, "Martin hasn't worked as hard as we'd like him to work lately in practice, so it may be a little bit of punishment, I guess." . . . The Skipjacks will travel to Utica to play the Devils on Wednesday, then return for games against the St. John's Maple Leafs on Friday and Sunday at the Arena.

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