Skipjacks, Bears vie for playoffs

April 09, 1993|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Staff Writer

The Skipjacks' rivalry with the Hershey Bears will end the season with an interesting twist.

Hershey has long been the Skipjacks' main AHL rival. In head-to-head encounters this season, they have a 7-6 edge.

And now, on this final weekend of the regular season, the Skipjacks and Bears are fighting for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Southern Division.

Fifth-place Hershey, after defeating the Hamilton Canucks, 6-3, last night, is one point behind Baltimore with two games left -- tonight on the road against the Binghamton Rangers and tomorrow night against the Skipjacks in Hershey. Any combination of Baltimore wins and Hershey losses totaling two would clinch a playoff berth for the Skipjacks.

The fourth-place Skipjacks have three games remaining, tonight against the Utica Devils at the Baltimore Arena, tomorrow night in Hershey and the finale Sunday night against the Rochester Americans at the Arena.

"We have such a young team -- no one in the AHL is close to being as young -- that it would be great to make the playoffs," coach Barry Trotz said. "Making the playoffs helps create a winning attitude. It's important to everyone's development. There's nothing like playoff hockey."

The fourth-place finisher will have the dubious pleasure of facing the Rangers in the first round, starting next week in Binghamton. The Rangers are the AHL's winningest (56-11-9) team and have an 8-0-2 record over the Skipjacks.

If the Skipjacks are Binghamton's opponent, they will stage the middle three games of the best-of-seven series April 23, 24 and 26.

The Skipjacks are coming off their annual Canada trip during which they won three of seven.

"It's a grueling trip," Trotz said. "If you had told me before we left we'd win three, I'd have said that would be pretty good. But the thing is, we could have won five of seven, because we were in all the games until the end.

"That would have buried Hershey. On the other hand, if we hadn't won those three, we'd be behind Hershey now."

Considering all that happened around the season's 50-game mark, Trotz is pleased the Skipjacks are still ahead of Hershey.

"We survived. We fended off Hershey to this point."

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