Binghamton hits mark, tops Skipjacks, too, 5-4

The Skipjacks found a place in the record book last night - but not their own.

The Binghamton Rangers broke a franchise record by edging the Skipjacks, 5-4, before 1,488 at the Baltimore Arena for their 10 straight victory. The mark was held by the Binghamton Whalers, who won nine in a row during the 1984-85 season.


Binghamton, the American Hockey League leader with a 20-2-3 record, raised its season's edge over Baltimore to 3-0-1.

The Skipjacks (7-12-5), after falling behind, 4-1, made a game of it with three third-period goals, the last by Martin Jiranek with 1 1/2 minutes left.


Binghamton's Corey Hirsch, owner of a 12-0-1 record, set a club mark for consecutive wins (10) by a goalie. The AHL's top-rated goalie, Hirsch broke Bob Mason's mark of nine straight during the 1984-85 season.

The game started in predictable fashion, considering Binghamton's early-season success. Don Biggs, third in the AHL points race, scored his 17th goal on a power play. Open at the time, Biggs received a perfect pass from Alexei Kovalev. Dave Thomlinson's subsequent score gave the Rangers a 2-0 lead entering the second period.

Binghamton stretched its lead to 4-1 in the second period on goals by Brian McReynolds and Peter Andersson.

The Skipjacks' first goal was scored by Mark Hunter, 30, an NHL veteran who on Saturday night played in his first minor-league game and last night scored his first-minor league goal. Hunter, sent to the Skipjacks by the Capitals, had been idle since Oct. 28, when he sustained a concussion and then was relegated to the bench when younger players prospered.

Skipjacks coach Barry Trotz welcomed the return last night of Steve Konowalchuk and Reggie Savage from the Capitals.

Earlier this season with the Skipjacks, Konowalchuk had three goals and eight assists in eight games and Savage had 11 goals and five assists in 11 games.

"They give us speed and some skill, and should help on power plays tremendously because they're so creative," Trotz said.

"We got them because the Caps are comfortable with the 12 forwards they have and want them to bond as a unit."


Still fuming about the Skipjacks' listless play in Saturday night's 8-2 loss to Cape Breton, Trotz summoned the players to a meeting three hours before last night's game.

"They played like they were unenthused and unconcerned about the outcome of the game," Trotz said. "In the meeting we went over the areas where there was lack of effort. Only about three guys played well.

"Everyone has a little job to do and he must do it to a T," Trotz said.

"We weren't winning the one-on-one battles. I try to teach, rather than rant and rave, and present visual pictures, figuring each one is worth 1,000 words."

NOTES: Leading Baltimore scorer John Byce missed his third straight game with a bruised leg. . . . In nine home dates, the Skipjacks have drawn 32,127, putting them 9,601 ahead of last year's pace. . . . The Skipjacks will play at Hershey Wednesday night, then return for a Friday date against Capital District at the Arena and travel to Utica Saturday. . . . Only two sides of the Arena's four-sided scoreboard worked; seems the electrician didn't have a spare of the needed computer part. . . . Since being sent down to Binghamton by the parent New York Rangers, Kovalev, a heralded Russian rookie, has three goals and four assists in four games. Kovalev, 19, was the Rangers' No. 1 choice in the 1991 draft.