PORTLAND, Maine -- These were not the same Baltimore Skipjacks who led the American Hockey League in scoring. These were not the same guys who had won three straight and six of the previous seven games. These were not the same guys who are challenging for first place in the Southern Division.
These were tired guys who had to travel almost 500 miles to play one game. And it showed in their play, as they lost to the Maine Mariners, 4-1, at the Cumberland County Civic Center last night.
"It's a long way to come for a game," said Skipjacks coach Rob Laird, whose team played at home Tuesday night. "But we can't use that as a crutch or an excuse. We did fly here."
The players and coaching staff flew to Boston yesterday afternoon, then took a bus to Portland. They arrived at the rink at 3 o'clock and waited 4 1/2 hours for the game to start.
"It wasn't an ideal situation for us," Laird said, "but that's a better scenario than busing all night. It's not our normal routine. Certainly it showed in our intensity level. We were not there. You have to have intensity to play this game, and it wasn't there for us. We didn't have a lot of energy. We only had nine forwards, and a couple of the guys were banged up a bit. And we didn't get the extra effort out of them.
"I wish we could avoid this type of situation. I know it's a home night for Maine, and they have to have an opponent. I just wish it could have been somebody else."
The Skipjacks, the AHL's highest-scoring team at 4.72 goals per game, were limited to just 25 shots on net and were shut out by goalie Matt DelGuidice after the first minute of the game. Baltimore had just five shots on net in the last period.
The Mariners scored the only goal of the third period when Lou Crawford converted on a power play with 1 minute, 39 seconds left. His shot from the left slot hit off goalie Olaf Kolzig and went over the goal line. It was Maine's only power play of the night. Baltimore had just two, as referee Dennis LaRue called only three penalties in the fast-moving game, which was completed in only 2:06.