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Dafoe keeps Skipjacks afloat until offense scores 3-1 win


HAMILTON, Ontario -- The Skipjacks all but knocked the Hamilton Canucks out of the American Hockey League playoff picture last night with a 3-1 win.

The victory put the Skipjacks eight points in front of the Canucks in the league's Southern Division and six ahead of the Hershey Bears. Baltimore has nine games remaining, Hershey eight and Hamilton 10.

After a sluggish start, the Skipjacks scored a couple of goals in the second period and added an insurance goal in the third. Martin Gendron, Trevor Halverson and Martin Jiranek scored for the Skipjacks, and Danny Kesa was the lone Canuck to beat Byron Dafoe.

Dafoe had an outstanding game, stopping 37 shots. The Skipjacks took 23 at Canucks' Bob Mason.

"We had to treat this like a playoff game . . . no question," Dafoe said. "It's getting close to do-or-die time for us, and it's really close for them."

In four games in Hamilton, Dafoe has a 3-0-1 record. "You know you just get on a roll, against a team, or in a building, and everything seems to go your way. It'll be fun until something happens."

The Canucks played two outstanding periods, but fell apart in the third when Jiranek scored the game's third goal.

The Canucks dominated the first period, but the Skipjacks escaped with a scoreless tie. Hamilton outshot the Skipjacks 12-4, and fine goaltending by Dafoe kept the score even. Dafoe made saves on a hard shot from Canucks defenseman Mario Marois and another when Hamilton forward Sandy Moger stole the puck at the blue line and rifled a shot.

The Skipjacks were outshot in the second period, but led 2-1 going into the third. Goals by Gendron and Halverson were sandwiched around Kesa's goal.

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