Despite many changes, things remained more or less the same for the Skipjacks last night. They didn't win, but neither did they lose.
Baltimore began the game with a new head coach, with two new players and without three players who recently had been sent to other teams. And during the game, they signed an Olympian. However, the changes failed to produce a victory.
Before 4,119 at the Baltimore Arena, the Skipjacks rallied in the third period to tie the Capital District Islanders, 2-2.
John Byce, acquired in a trade with the Boston Bruins on Monday, tied the game at 2 with a power-play goal at 16:56 of the third period and forced a scoreless five-minute sudden-death overtime. Byce knocked in the rebound of a shot by Simon Wheeldon.
"It was a tough, tight-checking game, very physical," said Byce. "It was great to score in my first game. I was in the right place at the right time on my goal."
"It's good to be back in Baltimore," said defenseman Dennis Smith, who was acquired in the same deal as Byce. "It was a very tough game. Both teams played well."
Byron Dafoe was outstanding in the Skipjacks goal with 24 saves. His Islanders counterpart, Danny Lorenz, had 25 stops.
"Our goalie played well, he made some big saves, but a goalie can't do it all alone," said Islanders coach Butch Goring. "It was a close-checking game, and we did a good job of shutting down Baltimore's power play [one of five] most of the game, and then they got lucky at the end and put a rebound through our goalie's pads.
"The Skipjacks have been having their problems, but you had to figure that they'd play well for a new coach and with [Washington Capitals general manager] David Poile sitting in the stands. They made a great effort. It was the kind of game that neither team should win or lose, so I guess a tie was appropriate."
Skipjacks coach Barry Trotz said: "I was very happy with our effort. I saw some positive things. We made some mistakes, but that's to be expected with new players and a new system. I guess the game was boring at times, but it was a very hard-hitting game.
"Capital District has the best penalty killing in the AHL, and we had our problems on the power play. We changed things around during the game, and those changes finally paid off for us."
Trotz also said that he hoped to use defenseman Brad Schlegel, a member of the silver-medal Canadian Olympic team who was signed during the game, in today's game with Capital District.
"We're pleased to have him," Poile said. "He's a very mature young man and has great potential. The sooner he gets to playing, the sooner the Skipjacks will get some added help."
Schlegel, 23, was the eighth-round pick of the Capitals in the 1988 draft. "I don't know what they [the Skipjacks] have planned for me," he said, "but I'm ready to play as soon as they need me."
Tim Taylor gave the Skipjacks a 1-0 lead midway through the first period when he completed a three-on-two break by ramming the puck past Lorenz from close range on the left side of the crease.
NOTES: Capitals promotions director Lew Strudler was in attendance. So was C Dave Tippett of the Capitals, another member of the Canadian team. . . . Smith is wearing jersey No. 4 and Byce is No. 27. Both were acquired from the Bruins on Monday for RW Brent Hughes. C Tim Taylor has taken No. 21, which was previously worn by D Mark Ferner, who was traded to the Maple Leafs. RW John Purves is the new Skipjacks captain, replacing RW Craig Duncanson, who is on loan to Moncton. Smith takes Ferner's job as an assistant captain. RW Jeff Greenlaw is the other assistant captain. . . . Baltimore scratched RW Todd Hlushko and D Chris Clarke. . . . Trevor Halverson was presented with the Black Velvet Player of the Month award before the game. . . . Greenlaw celebrated his 24th birthday last night. G Byron Dafoe turned 21 Thursday.