Marc Fortier and Jaroslav Sevcik spoiled what could have been a big victory by the Baltimore Skipjacks before 6,605 at the Baltimore Arena last night.
The Skipjacks were cruising along with a 3-2 lead in the American Hockey League game and then the Citadels turned the tide, as Fortier tied the score with 18 seconds remaining in regulation and Sevcik won it 53 seconds into overtime, 4-3.
Baltimore, playing without four players who are injured and four who are with the Washington Capitals on recall, jumped to a 2-0 lead, saw Halifax rally to tie the score in the second period, and then took the lead on John Purves' third-period goal.
Fortier put a bouncing shot from the right point past goalie Jim Hrivnak to tie the score, and Sevcik climaxed a two-on-one break by sliding the puck past a diving Hrivnak.
"I think Hrivnak lost concentration on the tying goal," Citadels coach Clement Jodoin said. "It was a great goal, but I don't think he saw it all the way. The game-winner was as pretty a two-on-one break as you'll see, and Sevcik had a wide-open side of the goal to shoot at."
During the game, which was filled with penalties and fights, the Skipjacks lost defenseman Kent Paynter and coach Rob Laird because of an altercation involving the Baltimore bench and Halifax players on the ice. Both were given game misconduct penalties at 14 minutes, 26 seconds of the third period by referee Dennis LaRue.
"We played well, very strong in the first period," Laird said. "If we could have kept it up the entire game, we would have won. We still had a shot at winning, but give Halifax credit. They say hockey is a game of inches, and that's what happened to us tonight.
"Being without those players injured and with the Capitals hurt, but the guys we have here played well enough to win."
Purves, scoring from the slot after a perfect feed from Steve Maltais, broke a 2-2 tie at 4:47 of the third period. Joel Quenneville started the rush up ice and fed Maltais, who skated up the left boards. When he reached the circle, he fed Purves for his 13th goal.
With 1:10 remaining, Halifax pulled goalie Scott Gordon in favor of a sixth attacker, and, with 18 seconds left, Fortier got a wrist shot past Hrivnak to tie the score and force a five-minute overtime.
Seconds earlier, Todd Hlushko missed an empty-net goal by inches. The goal would have assured Baltimore a victory.
On the game-winner, Miroslav Ihnacak got the puck at center ice and skated up the right side of the rink with Sevcik on the left. He faked Rob Mendel and slid the puck across the slot to Sevcik, who slipped the puck into the upper reaches of the cage.
"We outshot Halifax and we outplayed them," said Tyler Larter. "They got a lucky bounce on the game-tying goal and a perfectly executed two-on-break on the game-winner. We played better than they did for 59 minutes, but hockey games are a little longer than that."
Gordon, a former Skipjack, made 29 saves.
Quenneville anchored a Baltimore defense that limited the Citadels to 23 shots on goal and and one power-play goal in six opportunities.
Seftel had a goal and an assist and Rob Murray also scored for Baltimore, which has lost all four games to the Citadels.
"I told my team today that this was a chance to sweep Baltimore, one of the best teams in the league," said Jodoin. "I think tonight's game was more intense than Tuesday's [a 5-4 Halifax win]."
NOTES: The Skipjacks recalled C Harry Mews from Hampton Roads of the ECHL to help compensate for the loss of C Alfie Turcotte, RW Reggie Savage, RW Tim Bergland and D Mark Ferner, all on recall with Washington. Nineteen players have seen action with both the Skipjacks and Capitals this season. . . . The Citadels added LW Ken Quinney from Quebec. . . . Halifax will play in Hershey, Pa., tonight and complete its Southern swing tomorrow in Binghamton, N.Y. . . . Jack Butterfield, president of the AHL, was a visitor, as was Lew Strudler, Capitals vice president for marketing.