Spirit stops Ambush rally behind Nichols' go-ahead score in fourth quarter

December 27, 1992|By Warren Mayes | Warren Mayes,Contributing Writer

ST. LOUIS -- Timing is everything, and Spirit coach Kenny Cooper said defender Steve Nichols mastered it last night.

Nichols, who had scored just one goal this season, kicked in the go-ahead goal in the fourth quarter, leading the Spirit to an 18-12 victory over the St. Louis Ambush.

"That was good timing on Steve's part," Cooper said. "We don't teach our fullbacks to run that much. If your fullbacks are up too much in this league, you'll get burned.

"But in this case, it worked out real well for us."

Nichols agreed.

"I was in the right place at the right time," Nichols said. "That was a big goal. The game came right to me and I just headed it in."

Rusty Troy scored three goals and Michael King added two goals in helping the Spirit improve to 8-2 before a crowd of 8,126 at The St. Louis Arena.

"This was a big win for us," Nichols said. "After losing to Cleveland, we wanted this one."

St. Louis saw its perfect home record of 5-0 spoiled in falling to 7-7. It was the first meeting this season between the two clubs.

"They were unbeaten in their building and we wanted this one," Cooper said. "We knew it would be a dogfight."

Nichols scored on a deflection on a pass from Steve Boardman at 2:41 of the final quarter for a 12-11 lead.

A power-play goal by King with 8:05 left in the game gave the Spirit a 13-11 edge.

St. Louis' Steve Maurer scored a power-play goal with 6:06 left, cutting the lead to 13-12.

However, Troy scored his second goal of the game unassisted with 4:02 left, giving the Spirit a 15-12 lead. Troy scored an unassisted 3-point goal into an empty net for the final margin with 42 seconds remaining.

St. Louis took its only lead 1:36 into the fourth period on a power-play goal by Kevin Hundelt, giving the Ambush an 11-10 advantage. Hundelt missed a shootout chance with 7:28 remaining.

"When you get down and then have to battle back from so far, it takes a lot out of you," St. Louis coach Steve Pecher said. "When we got it back even, we didn't have much left."

The Ambush battled and outscored the Spirit 5-0 in the third period to tie the game 10-10.

"We were flat in the third quarter and they got the momentum," Cooper said. "It became a gut check for us. Our discipline really helped. We were prepared and ready.

"We kept our poise and composure after they came back. We knew this was going to be a tough game."

A two-point St. Louis goal by Hundelt after being fed by Thompson Usyian at 3:02 of the third period cut the Spirit lead to 10-7.

Usiyan scored on a free kick for the Ambush at 4:56, cutting the lead to 10-9.

Usyian missed a shootout attempt with 6:20 left in the third quarter but Hundelt scored on his shootout opportunity with 1:48 remaining even the score at 10-10.

The Spirit scored the first six points en route to an 8-3 first-quarter lead.

Barry Stitz slipped an unassisted two-point goal into an open net from the right side just 1 minute, 44 seconds into the game. Baltimore made it 4-0 when King spun around Tim Walters inside the white line at 3:06, beating goalkeeper Jeff Robben on his right side.

Doug Neely banked in an unassisted goal just 19 seconds later, giving the Spirit a 6-0 advantage.

The Ambush was awarded a shootout at 6:05 after a pushing penalty by King. Dan O'Keefe moved forward and buried the ball in the top right of the net, cutting the Spirit lead to 6-1.

St. Louis' Kirk Moser picked up a rebound and scored from the far left corner, just putting the ball inside the far post for a two-point goal at 12:28, making it 6-3.

The Spirit's Troy took a pass and scored an easy goal from the left side using the right post with 14 seconds left into the period, giving Baltimore an 8-3 lead.

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