MILL season opener had it all--bad weather, a patchwork goalie and the Gaits

December 31, 1990|By James H. Jackson

For Detroit Turbos equipment manager Gary Law, the Major Indoor Lacrosse League game against the Baltmore Thunder on Saturday night was a night to remember.

For the first 11 minutes of the season opener at the Baltimore Arena, he was the goalie.

Bad weather conditions -- fog, snow and rain in Detroit, Syracuse, N.Y., Toronto and Baltimore -- gave the Turbos major problems. Paul and Gary Gait, flying out of Syracuse, N.Y., had to land in Philadelphia, hire a taxi and drive to Baltimore, arriving at 7:45 p.m., 20 minutes before the scheduled starting time.

The plane carrying starting goalie Ted Sawicki and the goalie equipment was delayed out of Detroit. Because of this and the large walk-up crowd -- nearly 4,000 -- the start of the game was delayed 43 minutes.

Meanwhile, goalie equipment was scavenged from the Baltimore Skipjacks hockey team and the Thunder. Law, a one-time goalie in Canada, began the game in the Turbos nets in makeshift attire. When Sawicki and his equipment arrived via Philadelphia and a chartered limousine, Baltimore was ahead, 5-0.

Sawicki, who finished with 26 saves, helped turn the tide in Detroit's favor. Goals by the Gaits 76 seconds apart cut the Baltimore lead to 5-2, and the Turbos finished with a 20-16 victory.

If the first game is an indication, the Gait brothers appear destined to dominate the MILL the way they dominated college lacrosse.

The Gaits, who helped Syracuse University to three consecutive National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I championships, combined for 11 goals and four assists in their MILL debut.

Paul scored seven goals and handed out two assists and Gary had four and two before a near-sellout crowd of 9,927.

"We have a nice team," said Paul Gait. "Even though Baltimore got a five-goal lead early, we knew we could come back. Getting Ted Sawicki in the goal gave us the lift we needed to get started."

Thunder coach John Stewart said: "The Gaits make things happen. They're fine players, and they can dominate a game."

Added Thunder general manager Darrell Russell: "I don't know how much more you could ask from two players. They do everything."

The Turbos scored a pair of short-handed goals late in the third quarter that tied the score at 13 and took the lead for good, 16-14, on a pair of goals in the final 49 seconds of the third.

"In every game, there is a critical time," said Stewart. "The third quarter, when Detroit scored the two short-handed goals, was the turning point for us. We had been leading and were on a power play. Detroit scored twice short-handed and took the momentum away from us. We never got it back."

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