NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- The Baltimore Skipjacks taught the American Hockey League a lesson about playing under playoff pressure this weekend.
On the strength of Alfie Turcotte's second-period goal and Jim Hrivnak's 29 saves, Baltimore took a foothold on a Southern Division playoff spot with a 1-0 victory over the New Haven Nighthawks yesterday before 3,258 at the Coliseum.
The victory was the third on the road in three nights for the Skipjacks (35-29-5) and placed them in good position for second place behind the Rochester Americans.
"This is the first time in Skipjacks history we've ever won three in three nights on the road," Baltimore coach Rob Laird said. "There's usually a fatigue factor involved. We must have put a thousand miles in since we hit the road. But this was our third straight great game against a worthy opponent."
Worthy certainly described New Haven Sunday, despite the loss that extended its winless streak to eight (0-7-1) and moved it a step closer to elimination in the Northern Division. The Nighthawks are 15 points behind fifth-place Halifax for the last playoff spot with only nine games to play.
"It's been kind of like this all year," said Pat Hickey, New Haven's associate coach and general manager. "The guys worked their tails off. It's frustrating in the sense I've been telling them that they'll get results eventually."
Baltimore began its five-game road trip with victories at Springfield, Mass., and Hershey, Pa., over the weekend. The Nighthawks, however, posed a much different problem. Winless since Feb. 16, New Haven is winding down its season without much pressure or hope for the playoffs. That translated into a difficult game for the Skipjacks, a point driven home during a scoreless first period when New Haven goalie Ron Scott (30 saves) made 12 saves to keep the Jacks off the board.
"Scott was just great tonight," Laird said. It was the first time Scott had faced the Jacks this year. Robb Stauber -- sent to Phoenix of the IHL by the Los Angeles Kings last Tuesday -- had played the previous four games between the teams for New Haven. Of course, the Nighthawks, still last in the AHL in goals, weren't much better against Hrivnak.
Starting for the third straight time this weekend, Hrivnak -- who made 37 saves Saturday night in Hershey -- was Scott's equal. Hrivnak made 11 saves, the toughest of which came from New Haven's leading scorer, Ladislav Tresl, with four minutes to play in the period from the high slot.
Baltimore 0 1 0 -- 1
New Haven 0 0 0 -- 0
First period--None. Penalties--Seftel, Balt (high sticking), 2:57; V.Smith, NH (holding), 11:36; Lovsin, Balt (holding), 18:15; Drevitch, NH (roughing), 19:48.
Second period--1, Baltimore, Turcotte 33 (Seftel), 17:07. Penalties--Bench minor, NH (too many men) served by Aivazoff, 11:30; McCosh, NH (fighting), 19:28; Fermer, Balt (elbowing, fighting), 19:28.
Third period--None. Penalties--Maltais, Balt (interference), 2:31.
Shots on goal--Baltimore 11-13-7--31; New Haven--12-8-9-29. Goalies--Baltimore, Hrivnak 29 shots, 29 saves. New Haven, Scott 30 shots, 29 saves. Referee--Dennis LaRue. Linsemen--David Butova, Denis McKiernan. A--3,258.