Skipjacks fear Rangers will be at home at Arena

April 23, 1993|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Staff Writer

No sooner was Game 2 -- a 6-2 Binghamton win -- over than Rangers coach Colin Campbell uttered the words the Skipjacks dreaded:

"We're better on the road," Campbell said.

The team that set an AHL record with 57 wins, 32 of them at home, is better on the road? Campbell bases his opinion not so much on the fact that the Rangers also set a league record with 25 away victories, but on the manner in which the team played late in the season on the road.

"Lately, our play has been more disciplined on the road," Campbell said. "We made some wacky mistakes, like careless passes, at home in the first two games of this series."

Campbell was speaking Saturday night in Binghamton after the Rangers tied their AHL best-of-seven, first-round AHL Southern Division playoff series with the Skipjacks at 1. The teams will meet in Game 3 tonight at Baltimore Arena.

The Skipjacks were 0-8-2 against Binghamton during the regular season, including 0-3-2 at the Arena. One of the defeats was by one goal, the others by five and four.

"Bingo is the same, home or away," Skipjacks coach Barry Trotz said of the Rangers. "They have a lot of depth and never give you a break. They have all the ingredients -- experience, skill, size, goaltending and defense. They don't have to change their style on the road."

Skipjacks goalie Byron Dafoe points out that what makes the Rangers so formidable is their three well-balanced lines.

"There's always a good line coming at you," Dafoe said. "Other teams have two good ones and a lesser one, which gives you a break. Binghamton has three NHL-caliber defensemen who lead the rush, so they're coming at you 4-on-2 or 4-on-3."

After Dafoe beat Binghamton in the series opener, 4-3, the Rangers stormed back to take the second game. Trotz was annoyed that Dafoe was continually bumped, knocked off balance and had enemy sticks stuck between his legs -- all of which, in Trotz's opinion, was illegal.

"The refs do a good job, but they can't identify every infraction, and these are hard to detect," Trotz said. "This is part of the Rangers' ploy, to get a goalie off his game. This weekend, we'll make the refs aware of it."

The Rangers have more help on the way, not that they need it. After the parent New York Rangers failed to make the NHL playoffs, they assigned Russian defenseman Sergei Zubov to Binghamton.

Zubov initially balked, complaining that he wanted to go home to see his girlfriend and play for his country in the World Championships. This week he acquiesced.

Upon hearing the news, Trotz said, "When we faced him early in the season, I felt he was the best defenseman in the league."

NOTES: Binghamton also will be reinforced by LW Dave Thomlinson, who had been out with a broken foot. . . . For the Skipjacks, Trevor Halverson (hip) and Terry Chitaroni (back) are out and No. 3 scorer Mike Boback (back) is in after missing four games, including last weekend's games in Binghamton. "How much he plays will depend on his condition after missing all this time," Trotz said. Chitaroni, who was on loan from the Toronto Maple Leafs, is out for the season.

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