BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- The Skipjacks had to settle for the satisfaction of putting up a gallant struggle.
Their Cinderella story ended last night with a 5-3 loss to the Binghamton Rangers in the seventh game of the American Hockey League Southern Division first-round playoffs before 4,169 at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena.
It was the Skipjacks' final game. The franchise is being moved next season to Portland, Maine.
Underdogs from the outset, the Skipjacks extended Binghamton the limit. While the Rangers qualified for the playoffs by winning an AHL-record 57 games, the Skipjacks earned the final spot in their next-to-last game.
"They should have walked all over us," the Skipjacks' Mark Hunter said. "It was special just to win two here against a team that had lost only five home games all season."
The Skipjacks' Byron Dafoe was named star of the game after making 47 saves.
"He was outstanding," Skipjacks coach Barry Trotz said. "They could have buried us early if he hadn't played so well."
Steven King scored what proved to be the winning goal with 3:40 left in the second period for a 4-3 lead. Jean-Yves Roy added the fifth goal in the third.
The Skipjacks went out bloodied as well as bowed. Ken Klee got a broken nose and Jeff Nelson and Steve Poapst sustained concussions.
"No one thought we'd come this far," Trotz said. "There's no Calder Cup for us, but these guys can be proud of their effort."
The Rangers will open the second round of the playoffs by playing the Rochester Americans here Monday and Wednesday. Rochester, a distant second to Binghamton in the Southern Division regular-season chase, won four straight from the Utica Devils in the first round after dropping the opener.
Mike Stevens gave Binghamton a 1-0 lead 13:46 into the first period with his fourth goal of the playoffs. Binghamton outshot the Skipjacks by a staggering 25-5 during the period. During the season, the Rangers averaged 35 shots a game.
In the second period, John Byce and Martin Jiranek sent Baltimore ahead, 2-1, but Stevens, with his second goal, and Mike Hurlbut gave Binghamton the edge at 3-2.
Hunter tied it at 3, only to have King restore the Rangers' one-goal advantage at 4-3. A Rangers' goal late in the period was disallowed when an official ruled a player batted the puck in with his hand.
The two Russians, Alexei Kovalev and Sergei Zubov, sent down by the parent New York Rangers to help Binghamton in the playoffs, were benched last night. Binghamton coach Colin Campbell was displeased with their lack of teamwork. The fans cheered when it was announced before the game that the Russians wouldn't play.
Trotz meanwhile, got help from the parent Capitals when Jason Woolley was sent to help on defense.
JACKS VS. RANGERS
AHL SOUTHERN DIVISION SEMIFINALS
(Rangers win series, 4-3) Results
Game 1: Skipjacks 4, Rangers 3
Game 2: Rangers 6, Skipjacks 2
Game 3: Rangers 8, Skipjacks 3
Game 4: Skipjacks 3, Rangers 1
Game 5: Rangers 4, Skipjacks 3
Game 6: Skipjacks 6, Rangers 2
Last night: Rangers 5, Skipjacks 3