Blizzard slides past Spirit in overtime Buffalo 2 1/2 behind after 17-14 win

February 26, 1993|By Budd Bailey | Budd Bailey,Contributing Writer

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Baltimore Spirit let one get away last night.

The Spirit blew a 14-10 lead in the last six minutes of play and dropped a 17-14 decision in overtime to the Buffalo Blizzard. Baltimore's lead in the American Division dropped to 2 1/2 games over the Blizzard. The Spirit has 11 games left and Buffalo has 10.

Kris Kelderman, who played with Baltimore last season, won it for Buffalo at the 1:17 mark of overtime.

"Everybody collapsed on Ralph Black and it left the opposite side wide open," he said. "I screamed for the ball. As soon as I received the ball I tried to rip a good shot hard. Luckily it just missed the post, went off the keeper's [Cris Vaccaro] back and into the goal."

It was a rough start to what figures to be an important weekend for the Spirit. Baltimore hosts the Kansas City Attack -- the National Division leaders -- tomorrow and then must travel to Chicago on Sunday afternoon.

Tim Wittman had four goals for the Spirit, including what almost turned out to be the game-winner in the fourth quarter.

Kevin Smith had broken a 10-10 tie with a goal at 3:44 of the fourth period. About six minutes later, Wittman one-timed a shot in the box to give Baltimore a 14-10 lead.

Rudy Pikuzinski answered for Buffalo with about five minutes left. Then with its goalie pulled, Buffalo's Paul Dougherty tapped a shot past Vaccaro to send it into overtime.

"At 14-10, right there, you've got to win the game," Spirit coach Kenny Cooper said. "A bounce of the ball is one thing, but you still have to stay with the runners. That's what disappoints me.

"We wasted a terrific performance by Wittman, and you can't do that. We're still playing well, but the end result was they figured out a way to win the game."

The Spirit got off to a rocky start. Dean Kelly of the Blizzard took a rebound off the boards and beat Vaccaro less than two minutes into the game. Then Randy Pikuzinski took advantage of a scramble in front of the net, and tapped it past Vaccaro.

Smith got the Spirit on the board by bouncing a shot off of Black and into the net. Goran Hunjak tied the game at four at the 9:06 mark, superbly working a two-on-one with Jason Dieter. Baltimore took its first lead of the game at 6-4 when Wittman caught Blizzard goalie Jamie Swanner out of position and slipped the ball into the corner.

Buffalo showed some life at the start of the second period. A flurry of shots ended when Black's shot from outside was deflected in by Rudy Pikuzinski.

But the Spirit regained control of the game after that and Wittman scored the final two goals of the half for a 10-6 lead.

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