The fierce storm that rocked the Mid-Atlantic this weekend may have been a major inconvenience for most, but for the Skipjacks, it provided something of a calming effect.
Yesterday at the Arena, the Skipjacks put aside the pressures of dwindling attendance and a possible franchise move to end a three-game losing streak and post a 4-3 victory over the Providence Bruins before 290 hardy spectators.
"We can't worry about what is going on around us," said Skipjacks coach Barry Trotz. "We knew that the most important thing was to get ourselves geared up and get the two points.
"We knew there wasn't going to be many fans. Sometimes our fans are hard on us, so maybe [the small crowd] gave us a break."
The Skipjacks (23-31-12) jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Randy Pearce and Martin Jiranek.
Pearce beat Providence goalie Mike Bales to his stick side with a hard wrist shot 5:57 into the opening period. Chris Longo and John Slaney were credited with assists on the goal.
With Providence's Jamie Huscroft in the penalty box for taking Baltimore's Mike Boback down in front of the Bruins' goal, Jiranek scored a power-play goal at 8:48 to give the Skipjacks a 2-0 advantage.
"We really focused on trying to get a quick start," said Trotz. "They've got a lot of talent on that team, so we knew we'd need a good start."
Providence's Denis Chervyakov got the Bruins (37-29-2) on the board with 26 seconds left in the period when his wrist shot sailed between the legs of Skipjacks goalie Byron Dafoe.
Baltimore extended its lead to 3-1, 55 seconds into the second period when center Eric Murano scored his 32nd goal of the season on a give-and-go with Slaney.
Murano scored again off an assist by Jason Woolley with 7:36 left in the period to give the Jacks a 4-1 lead.
Providence's Glen Murray fed Clark Donatelli in front of the net for the last goal of the period. Dafoe was forced to come out of the crease to defend Murray, leaving Donatelli with an open net.
In the final period, Stephane Richer scored a short-handed goal off an assist by Tod Hartje to bring the Bruins within one-goal of the lead with 11:28 left, but Dafoe and the Skipjacks defense kept the Bruins scoreless for the remainder.
Baltimore killed a two-minute holding penalty mid-way through the final period, and Dafoe made a nice glove save with 2:18 left in the game to secure the win.
"Everybody's been working really hard and showing a lot of character," said Trotz. "We showed a lot of poise by hanging on in the end."
The Skipjacks, who are in fourth place in the AHL's Southern Division, extended their lead over to fifth-place Hershey to six points.
"It's a big two points for us," said Trotz. "It will put some pressure back on Hershey."
Murano, who was acquired from Hamilton in January, did not let the lack of a crowd bother him.
"[The size of the crowd] is something you can't think about," said Murano, who has nine goals and six assists in his past 12 games. "You just have to go out and play.
"I played in front of some small crowds in Hamilton, so it wasn't any big deal."
Yesterday's game was the only of the AHL's five scheduled contests that was played.
"We're very tight in booking at the Arena and Providence was already here," said Margaret Robinson, Skipjacks director of public relations. "It was just a matter of getting the on-ice officials."
Hockey rules state that two linesmen are needed for an official game. Fortunately for the Skipjacks, Gary Madsen and Rob Cottingham, the linesmen for yesterday's game, live in the Baltimore area. Referee Rob Martell, who lives in Northern Virginia, also made it to the game.
Providence, which played at New Haven on Friday night, came into Baltimore around 4:30 yesterday morning. The Skipjacks arrived from Binghamton about 3 a.m.
C7 The teams play again at The Arena tonight at 7 p.m.
Providence 1 1 1 -- 3
Skipjacks 2 2 0 -- 4