Skipjacks, Hrivnak shut down Rangers, 6-2


BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- The first period should have been an omen. Unable to solve Baltimore Skipjacks goalie Jim Hrivnak with 15 first-period shots, the Binghamton Rangers saw the tide turn against them and dropped a 6-2 American Hockey League decision.

"The one big reason was Jimmy Hrivnak," Baltimore coach Rob Laird said. "That's probably the best game I've seen him play this year."

Hrivnak finished with 34 saves, although Baltimore was outshot, 36-20.

Hrivnak just returned from a brief backup role in Washington on Tuesday. "I just always seem to play well my first game back," Hrivnak said. "I don't know, maybe I'm more confident."

"We couldn't get a BB by him tonight," said Binghamton coach Ron Smith. "Me and Hilly [Binghamton assistant Al Hill] were just laughing in the third period. We just kept pounding away -- and nothing."

Meanwhile, Baltimore shut down Binghamton's top-ranked power play in six of seven attempts and got goals from five different players en route to the win.

Brent Hughes led the effort with two goals and two assists. Simon Wheeldon had a goal and two assists. The loss broke the Rangers' four-game winning streak. Binghamton (13-10-3) is 9-2-2 at home. The Skipjacks (17-9-2) have won five of their past six.

The Skipjacks led, 3-1, after two periods despite being outshot, 24-13. Power-play goals by Reggie Savage and Wheeldon in the second period gave Baltimore a 2-0 lead. Baltimore took a 1-0 lead on a goal by Savage 1:07 into the second period. Savage tipped Mark Ferner's slap shot from the point past goalie Mark Laforest for his 19th goal of the season. Savage has scored in six of his past seven games and 12 of his past 16.

Two minutes later, Binghamton center Corey Millen skated around Bob Babcock and came in alone on Hrivnak. Millen held the puck through and was turned away when Hrivnak made a glove save on the high wrist shot. Wheeldon made it 2-0 with his 18th goal of the season at 16:34.

Binghamton cut the margin to 2-1 when Mike Hurlbut scored his fifth of the season at 18:41. Hurlbut moved in on a two-on-one, taking a pass in the slot from Brian McReynolds and beating Hrivnak high.

The momentum lasted 15 seconds, as Hughes scored his 14th of the season to make 3-1 with 1:04 left in the period. The Skipjacks managed to keep the first period a scoreless tie, mostly due to the goaltending of Hrivnak, who stopped all 15 Binghamton shots.

The Skipjacks, who had just three shots in the third period in a 3-1 home loss to Binghamton on Tuesday, managed only five in the first period and only one in the first 12:30 of the game.

Three of the shots came on power plays, as Laforest was seriously tested only twice, including a stick save on a shot from the circle by John Purves, who had slipped in behind the defensemen with about three minutes to go in the period.

The Skipjacks, who had killed of 34 of the past 35 power plays over an eight-game period, successfully killed Binghamton's first five through two periods.

Binghamton 0 1 1 -- 2

Baltimore 0 3 3 -- 6

First period--1. none. Penalties--Larose, Bing (high-sticking), 2:13; Morissette, Balt (interference), 7:03; Purves, Balt (tripping), 9:37; Bing. bench (too many men, served by Lacroix), 11:41; Taylor, Balt (holding), 14:27; Biggs, Bing (holding), 19:54.

Second period--1. Baltimore, Savage 19 (Ferner, Reynolds), 1:07 (pp). 2. Baltimore, Wheeldon 18 (Hughes, Vykoukal), 16:34 (pp). 3. Binghamton, Hurlbut 5 (McReynolds, Cichocki), 18:47. 4. Baltimore, Hughes 14 (Wheeldon, Vykoukal), 18:56. Penalties--Biggs, Bing (elbowing), 5:49; Savage, Balt (holding), 9:49; Walcott, Balt (roughing, misconduct, served by Morissette), 13:03; Hull, Bing (high-sticking), 14:23.

Third period--5. Baltimore, Purves 16 (Hughes, Wheeldon), 7:33. 6. Baltimore, Reynolds 6 (Taylor), 11:31 (sh). 7. Baltimore, Hughes 15 (Purves), 16:40. 8. Binghamton, McReynolds 9 (Laviolette), 19:37. Penalties--Walcott, Balt (misconduct), 5:31; Fiorentino, Bing (misconduct), 5:31; Bennett, Bing (slashing), 6:00; Martell, Balt (high-sticking), 10:08; Morissette, Balt, double-minor (hooking, roughing), 18:11; Germain, Bing (unsportsmanlike), 18:11.

Shots on goal--Baltimore 5-6-9--20; Binghamton 15-9-12--36. Power-play opportunities--Baltimore 2 of 6. Binghamton 1 of 7. Goalies--Baltimore, Hrivnak 6-2-1 (36 shots, 35 saves). Binghamton, Laforest 10-6-1 (20-14). A--3,102. Referee--Lance Roberts. Linesmen--Richard Zerbe, Mike Smith.

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