Stars beat Blast, 5-4, on last-minute goal Baltimore drops 7th in 8 trips to Tacoma

November 09, 1991|By John Lawrence | John Lawrence,Special to The Sun

TACOMA, Wash. -- Maybe the Baltimore Blast should mail in the game and stay in Baltimore instead of showing up at the Tacoma Dome.

Of the past eight games between the two teams here, the Tacoma Stars have won seven.

The latest was last night, when the Stars' Gary Heale, stationed at the right post, scored on a cross from Ralph Black with 27 seconds left for a 5-4 Tacoma victory.

"Obviously, to lose a game on that type of situation is tough," said Blast coach Kenny Cooper. "But a lot are going to be won or lost that way."

At least the Blast, which plays in San Diego tomorrow, avoided overtime -- five of those seven losses have been in extra time.

"It's amazing," said Cooper. "We talked before the game how at one time we came into the his building and we won those close games. Now it's the reverse. But I thought it wad a very well-played game.

"We knew one team would come out with its back against the wall in the season. This puts us behind the 8-ball."

It negated a tying goal set up by the Blast's Mike Stankovic that made it 4-4 at 5 minutes, 2 seconds of the fourth period.

He delayed the action with both teams playing one man short, and when the Baltimore penalty was over, he took advantage by hitting Domenic Mobilio near the right post for an easy power-play goal.

The loss couldn't be blamed on Blast goalkeeper Cris Vaccaro. He made the two best saves of the game -- a diving stop of an

Eddie Radwanski rocket and a similar, left-handed stab on Freddy Thompson.

Tacoma, down 3-2 at halftime, made it 3-3 6:09 into the third quarter, on a goal by Carl Valentine.

Stopped on a turn move outside, he whirled back inside and let go from the left point past Baltimore's Billy Ronson, easily beating Vaccaro inside the right post.

The Stars' first lead was established at 14:03 of the third on a three-on-two break. Billy Crook hit Radwanski on the right wing, and his cross was one-timed by Thompson from left wing and inside the near post.

Though the Blast outplayed Tacoma in the first half, it didn't achieve its 3-2 lead until the 14:21 mark of the second quarter on a breakaway goal by Waad Hirmez.

He fielded a long ball by Doug Neely on the run and pushed it past charging Tacoma goalkeeper Mike Dowler and inside the right post.

"A win is win," said Stars coach Keith Weller. "But I don't think we're playing as well as we can. We're just not in sync. It will come, but some of our veteran players are struggling."

After Vaccaro twice denied Tacoma early -- first with his left hand pushing aside a Joe Waters' drive and then smothering a Jim Gabarra shot near the line -- the Blast came alive.

Baltimore scored at 4:32 of the first period when a 35-foot drive by Joe Koziol bounded off Waters and inside the left post.

Afterward, Dowler made two superb saves to keep Baltimore at bay -- the second was a diving stab at a rebound shot by David Eise.

Tacoma tied it at 8 minutes, with two former Blast players teaming up. Valentine, after his first shot was blocked, slid the rebound to Dale Mitchell for a easy shot near the right post.

The Blast wasted little time in reclaiming the lead. Dowler fumbled a shot by Rod Castro, and Koziol tapped it in from point-blank range at 10:50.

At 12:58, Tacoma's Billy Crook struck from long range after picking off a Baltimore pass. His 40-footer whistled past Vaccaro, who was screened by Tacoma's Greg Ion.

NOTES: Cooper said it hasn't been announced yet, but his club would be returning to England for another exhibition appearance. Baltimore made its first trip last January.

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