Skipjacks goalkeeper Duane Derksen couldn't have picked a better time to have a spectacular game.
In yesterday's 3-1 win over Southern Division foe Rochester, Derksen made 32 saves on 33 shots in his first full game in two weeks.
Baltimore coach Barry Trotz said he hopes that, if his team can win their next three games (Hershey, Hamilton and Halifax), the Skipjacks (24-33-12) can earn a spot in the playoffs and put pressure on tomorrow's opponent, Hershey, to win eight of its next nine games to earn a berth.
"I thought our defense played outstanding. A big key in the game was keeping [Rochester's] power plays off the board," Trotz said, referring to the Americans (31-30-6), who rank third in the American Hockey League in power-play percentage. "Duane Derksen played quite well today."
The Baltimore defense, combining efforts of Brad Schlegel, John Slaney, Ken Klee, Rob Leask and Jason Woolley, shut out the Americans in their three power plays.
"This was the first time my parents [from midwest Canada] have seen me play all year," Derksen said. "It feels good to play well and help out the team. We have to keep our destiny in our own hands and not worry about Hershey."
Baltimore left wing Darren McAusland tied the score at 1 at 10:05 of the second period on assists from Woolley and Schlegel.
The Skipjacks carried that momentum into the final period, scoring on two of 10 shots. Slaney, who leads the Baltimore defense in scoring, slapped in his 18th goal from outside the face-off circle at 7:08. Jartin Jiranek and John Byce assisted.
Left wing Eric Murano, who has been an offensive spark, added the insurance goal at 16:15, passing Rochester goalie Olaf Kolzig on the glove side in a one-on-one. The goal was Murano's 36th. Kolzig recorded 23 saves for Rochester.
The Americans took a 1-0 lead at 13:40 of the first period with JasonYoung scoring his 18th on assists from Todd Simon and Dan Frawley.
Yesterday's win came about 18 hours after losing, 8-6, to the Americans on Friday night.
Derksen came into the goal in the first period to replace Byron Dafoe, who had been starting regularly for the Skipjacks.
"I hadn't played in about two-and-a-half weeks, so it was definitely good to get in [Friday night]," Derksen said.
NOTES: Skipjacks C Jeff Nelson is out recovering from knee surgery and Trotz said he hopes he can return by April 1. . . . RW Mark Hunter, who has been out with a shattered thumb, is expected to return for the last three regular-season games.
Rochester 1 0 0 -- 1
Skipjacks 0 1 2 -- 3