Canadiens start fast, hold off Skipjacks, 3-2 Larouche's 3 assists spark Fredericton

February 20, 1993|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Staff Writer

The Fredericton Canadiens made the most of their only Baltimore visit this season.

In the first of two games against the Skipjacks, Fredericton skated to a 3-2 victory last night before 5,001 at the Baltimore Arena. The teams will play again March 30 in Fredericton.

Steve Larouche, the Canadiens' points leader with 65, assisted on all three goals to raise his assists total to 48.

The Skipjacks moved within one goal at 1:44 of the third period on Jeff Nelson's 11th goal, but weren't able to tie it. Fredericton goalie Les Kuntar (28 saves) turned back the few threats the Skipjacks mounted.

"That was the difference again, the goalies," said Skipjacks coach Barry Trotz, who started Duane Derksen but pulled him in favor of Byron Dafoe in the first period after Fredericton took a 2-0 lead.

"That seems to be a curse here -- soft goals. It was a tough start for Duane and I didn't want it to get any worse for him. On the other hand, it was good for Byron."

Dafoe, who has been sharing the starting job with Derksen, faced 16 shots and made 15 saves. He, like Derksen, has had his shaky moments.

"Ninety percent of goaltending is mental," Dafoe said. "Over 80 games, there are ups and downs. There are no excuses for slumps, but they do happen."

Despite the defeat -- their seventh in the last 11 games -- the Skipjacks retained their hold on fourth place ahead of the Hershey Bears in the AHL's Southern Division.

When Fredericton took a 2-0 lead 10:53 into the first period, Trotz yanked Derksen and inserted Dafoe. The goals Derksen allowed were relatively soft, including a tap-in by Lindsay Vallis that went off his glove.

Robert Guillet scored the other goal.

The period was marked by several fights. Fredericton's Donald Brashear was ejected after a fracas that also led to penalties for three other players.

The Canadiens increased their lead to 3-0 at 4:18 of the second period when Pierre Sevigny scored his 29th goal.

John Slaney ended Kuntar's shutout hopes with 3:49 left in the period with his 12th goal. Mike Boback's assist on the play was his 45th.

The Skipjacks were buoyed by the return of Boback, who missed the previous five games with a torn knee ligament. He led the team in points (54) at the time of his injury.

NOTES: The Skipjacks acquired C-RW Terry Chitaroni on loan from the St. John's Maple Leafs to buttress their squad depleted by injuries and call-ups. In 30 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs' AHL affiliate, the 20-year-old Chitaroni scored 11 points. "He's a tough kid, very physical," Trotz said. "St. John's has an old lineup and he wasn't getting in much."

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