BALTIMORE, NOV. 15 -- The Baltimore Skipjacks went from bad to worst today. By dropping their 18th straight game, 6-2 to the Adirondack Red Wings, the Skipjacks supplanted the 1974-75 Washington Capitals as owners of the longest losing streak in the history of professional hockey.
It was a tough game to lose for the Skipjacks and a loyal gathering of 1,775 fans. The home club grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first six minutes before defenseman Tim Hoover suffered a concussion, reducing the thin defensive corps to four.
The Red Wings then moved in front by converting three straight power plays, and put the game away with a goal seconds after the expiration of a 78-second two-man advantage for Baltimore.
"This wasn't encouraging," said owner Tom Ebright. "It's getting better, but it's not getting better enough. Nobody thought it would be easy, but nobody thought it would be this difficult."
A rink attendant brought the final puck used in the game to Ebright, who dropped it into the pocket of his sweater.
"This is for my role in hockey history -- goat of the world," Ebright said. "We're at the point now where we're a little embarrassed by the situation. We've become celebrities in reverse. It's not what I had in mind when I bought the team as an effort to save hockey for Baltimore."
When Pittsburgh cut its ties with the Skipjacks, Ebright and General Manager/Coach Gene Ubriaco were forced to use free agents and players supplied by eight NHL teams, with Montreal and Quebec providing the most help.
One of the free agents is winger Gary Sampson, a former Capital.
"Every mistake we make, the puck goes in the net," Sampson said. "We need a couple of breaks to turn it around and we're just not getting them. Some guys start pressing and try to do too much and it leads to a goal every time. The media has been pretty good, Gene has shown a lot of patience and we're not complaining at all. But every game the second period has been awful. We get ahead, then slip behind and everyone hangs his head and shuts up."
Adirondack's four goals today, which prompted Ubriaco to replace goalie Murray Bannerman, boosted the opposition's margin over 18 middle periods to 51-18. Overall, the Skipjacks have been outscored, 121-58.
Despite the continuing disaster, Ubriaco has kept his sense of humor. Meeting the media after the game, he said, "I'm going to say a word, but I don't want you to take it literally: Shoot."
Then Ubriaco provided good news and bad news. Good news: Montreal has assigned Stephane Richer to Baltimore. Bad news: Richer is not the Canadiens' talented center, but a rookie defenseman of the same name.