The Baltimore Thunder had a chance to win the American Division of the Major Indoor Lacrosse League last night. Instead, it finished last, after looking the part in a 20-8 thrashing by the Philadelphia Wings before 9,776 at the Baltimore Arena.
Baltimore went into the game at 3-4, trailing 4-3 New York and ahead of 2-5 Philadelphia. A Thunder win and New York loss would have given it a share of the regular-season title, but it wasn't to be.
Despite the loss, and last-place finish, the Thunder still gets into the playoffs, facing the Wings at the Spectrum on April 4.
"I think it's fair that three teams in each division [there are only seven teams in the MILL] get in because we have such a short season," said Darrell Russell, Thunder general manager.
The game itself was a showcase of local talent. Matt Panetta and John Tucker, both from Johns Hopkins, scored four goals for the Wings. Rob Shek from Towson State had three goals and three assists as did Mark Hahn from UMBC. Tucker also had three assists.
"It's too much to ask these guys to play two games in two nights," said Russell. "We left our legs in Buffalo last night [Friday when the Thunder lost, 27-20]."
Goalie Dallas Eliuk made 28 saves in the first half as Philadelphia opened up an 8-1 lead.
Brian Kroneberger gave the Thunder a 1-0 lead midway through the first quarter. However, the Wings' Johns Hopkins connection took over and Philadelphia pulled to a 3-1 lead at the conclusion of the quarter.
Panetta tied the score at 11:46, Tucker gave the Wings the lead at 13:40 and Panetta scored again with six seconds remaining.
Philadelphia outscored the Thunder 5-0 in the second quarter. Panetta completed his hat trick, and Shek scored twice.
Baltimore's starting goalie, Steve Dietrich, was replaced by Charlie Toomey when the Wings got their eighth goal midway through the quarter.
The carnage continued in the third quarter as Tucker and Hahn scored for a 10-1 lead. Tony Millon from Towson State broke Philadelphia's 10-goal run with a Thunder goal at 3:50, however Bill Miller scored less than a minute later and the Wings led, 11-2. Tucker completed his hat trick a minute later and Philadelphia led 12-2.
Panetta's fourth goal, off an assist from Tucker, made the score 13-2 before Kroneberger scored his second goal for the Thunder. Tim Welsh scored for the Thunder cutting the lead to 13-4.