Jacks upset Rangers, 4-3, in Game 1

April 17, 1993|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Staff Writer

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- The Binghamton Rangers missed their wake-up call.

The Springfield Indians issued it early in the week. Seeded No. 4 in the American Hockey League's Northern Division, Springfield won the first two games of its first-round playoff series against the top-seeded Providence Bruins.

If it could happen to Providence, it could happen to Binghamton, the class of the AHL. And it did.

Again it was No. 1 against No. 4. Facing the Skipjacks -- who claimed the fourth and final playoff spot in the Southern Division -- the Rangers bowed, 4-3, in the opener of their best-of-seven series last night before 3,440 at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena. The teams will meet in Game 2 here tonight.

"Look at Providence-Springfield," Binghamton coach Colin Campbell said before the game. "That could easily go seven games."

The Rangers may have looked at Springfield-Providence, but not hard enough.

The Skipjacks, who were 0-8-2 against Binghamton during the regular season, entered the third period with a 2-1 lead. After Jean-Yves Roy tied the score at 2 at 8:34, John Byce and Eric Murano scored within 27 seconds to give the Skipjacks a 4-2 lead. It was Murano's second goal of the game. Alexei Kovalev scored Binghamton's final goal with 18 seconds remaining.

"We played as well as we can in a lot of areas," Skipjacks coach Barry Trotz said. "We stayed focused and got some great efforts. We felt if we could weather the first 10 minutes, it would frustrate them. After that, we got more confident with each shift."

Trotz lauded the play of Byron Dafoe (33 saves) and veterans Mark Hunter, Byce and Jeff Greenlaw.

"They set the tone, bumping people at the start," Trotz said. "If you can get the veterans to lead by example like that, it's contagious."

Binghamton converted only one of its six power-play opportunities, which Dafoe thought was a key.

"We struggled with our penalty killing all year," he said. "This time the guys really came up big."

The Skipjacks played a strong first period, as if all the players were focused on the task.

Most of the action was in front of Dafoe, but he held firm. The Rangers outshot Baltimore in the period 19-9.

A goal by Victor Gervais gave the Skipjacks a 1-0 edge 4:26 into the game and Dafoe held it throughout the period. After being recalled from the Hampton Roads Admirals in late March, Gervais scored two goals in 10 games with the Skipjacks.

Four minutes into the second period, Craig Duncanson tied it. Dafoe was so disgusted after the flurry of activity in front of the net that -- by then on his hands and knees and with his head in the net -- he hurled the puck out across the ice.

With 4:19 left in the period, Murano gave Baltimore the lead again at 2-1. It gave Murano 31 points in 33 games since being traded by Hamilton to Baltimore.

The Rangers were reinforced by the arrival from the parent New York Rangers of Kovalev, a 19-year-old defenseman from Russia. He played in 64 games with New York, scoring 38 points, including three game-winning goals. In 13 games with Binghamton, he had 24 points, including eight power-play goals.

When the series switches to Baltimore Friday, the Rangers might have two more defensemen from New York -- Sergei Zubov and Peter Andersson. Both were with New York for its game last night at Washington, but are balking at playing in the AHL playoffs. They want to play for their nations in the World Championships -- Zubov for the Unified Team, and Andersson for Sweden.

NOTES: Don Biggs, Binghamton's AHL scoring champion, ranks ninth in league playoff scoring with 67 points in 56 games. . . . Baltimore's John Slaney finished the regular season as the AHL's top-scoring rookie defenseman with 66 points.

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