HERSHEY, PA. — HERSHEY, Pa. -- The Hershey Bears treated a pre-holiday crowd of 7,250, their largest of the season, to a 5-2 victory over the Skipjacks last night.
The Skipjacks thereby lost their hold on second place in the American Hockey League's Southern Division. The Rochester Americans climbed into second behind the division-leading Binghamton Rangers by defeating St. John's, 5-3.
It was the third of 14 games between Hershey and Baltimore this season. The Skipjacks lead the series, 2-1-0.
The Bears took a 3-2 lead into the final period and added two more goals while successfully killing the clock and holding the Skipjacks' weak offense in check.
Skipjacks coach Barry Trotz called Hershey's third goal -- scored by Tim Tookey with 1:08 left in the second period for a 3-2 advantage -- the key play of the game.
Baltimore was two men down at the time, partly as a result of an inadvertent poor play by goalkeeper Duane Derksen. He slapped the puck out of bounds and was assessed a delay-of-game penalty.
"That was the turning point," Trotz said. "We were down three men to two after Duane put the ball over the glass.
"Overall, we played a solid game. We haven't had much offense since the Caps called up some of our big scorers."
Hershey's Toni Porkka scored less than two minutes into the game by hitting a shot past a partially screened Derksen, who was making his third straight start in relief of injured Byron Dafoe.
The Bears' goalie, Tommy Soderstrom, made several acrobatic, lunging saves before surrendering a goal to Tim Taylor that tied it at 1-1 with 26 seconds left in the first period.
Jeff Greenlaw marked his first game with the Skipjacks after being sent down by the parent Washington Capitals by sending the Skipjacks ahead 2-1 in the second period.
Chris Jensen tied the score again midway through the period, and Tookey, on a power play, gave Hershey a 3-2 edge with his 12th goal of the season. Derksen stopped the first Hershey shot only to have Tookey bang in the rebound.
The Skipjacks were buttressed last night by the arrival of Greenlaw from the Caps and goalie Mike Parson, who will back up Derksen until Dafoe recovers from a badly sprained ankle. Greenlaw, 6 feet 1, 230 pounds, brings a physical presence to the Skipjacks.
"He's a checker, a physical type player," Trotz said.
Trotz knows that as soon as he talks to Capitals general manager David Poile, the first questions, in order, will be: Did you win? How did Greenlaw play?
Parson, 22, on loan from the Boston organization, which picked him on the second round in 1989, was playing for the Erie Panthers of the East Coast Hockey League. In eight games, he had an 0-4-2 record and a 5.66 goals-against average.
"Parson is here until Dafoe gets back," Trotz said. "Byron could be out a week or a month. He's definitely out for our games this weekend and doubtful for next Wednesday's game against Hershey."
The Skipjacks will face Cape Breton on Saturday night and Binghamton on Sunday night, both at the Baltimore Arena.
NOTES: Skipjacks leading scorer John Byce (26 points) missed the game with a bruised leg. . . .Ditto No. 4 scorer (16 points) Martin Jiranek, with a bruised shoulder. . . .Soderstrom made his first regular-season start. In two relief appearances, he had a 1.61 goals-against average in 74 minutes. . . .The game was Hershey's first without leading scorer Len Barrie (29 points), who was called up by Philadelphia and scored the tying goal Sunday against Buffalo in his first game.