With Heat stuck in Pa., Spirit's game postponed Makeup date may be tomorrow

March 15, 1993|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Staff Writer

The Harrisburg Heat was willing, but Pennsylvania official were not.

At 1:10 p.m. yesterday, less than an hour before the scheduled game time, the Heat notified the Spirit by phone that Pennsylvania State Police had closed Interstate 83 to expedite snow removal.

As a result, the Spirit-Heat game was postponed and tentatively rescheduled for tomorrow at 7:05 p.m. at the Baltimore Arena.

The date was not definite as of last night because the Heat had purchased tickets for a flight tomorrow to Wichita for its game there Wednesday against the Wings. The Heat is trying to change its travel plans to Wednesday.

Tomorrow is the only date agreeable to the Spirit and the Arena. The Washington Bullets' game against the Cleveland Cavaliers that waspostponed Saturday will be played at the Arena tonight.

The Spirit has games Friday, Saturday and Sunday and would not agree to play Thursday or next Monday because it would mean four games in four nights. The Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus will monopolize the Arena from March 23 to April 4. By then, the Spirit, whose regular season ends March 27, will be in the first round of NPSL playoffs.

Tickets for yesterday's game can be exchanged for tomorrow night's game (if it's played then) or Saturday's against the Detroit Rockers or Sunday's against the Buffalo Blizzard.

When officials from the clubs talked Saturday about whether to re- schedule the game, the Heat assured the Spirit that it would be able to keep yesterday's date.

"We were ready to come down by bus around 10 a.m., but the State Police wouldn't let us on I-83 because crews were cleaning it off," said Heat owner Rex Herbert. "The National Guard was blocking the entrances. We asked the State Police for an exception and they said no."

Asked why the Heat didn't travel here Saturday and spend the night at a hotel, Herbert said: "It was worse Saturday up here. We had every reason to believe it would be better [yesterday]."

Approximately 800 fans showed up for the game that wasn't played. The advance sale was 5,600. The Spirit made the best of a bad situation by conducting a clinic, bringing youngsters from the stands in small groups and playing eight-minute games with them and distributing Spirit posters.

The players and coaches spent an hour and 15 minutes on the floor with the youngsters. When they left for the locker room, they completed their damage control exercise by signing autographs.

NOTES: The Spirit is one win away from clinching at least a tie for the American Division title. . . . Leading Spirit scorer Goran Hunjak sprained his right ankle in Friday's win over the Canton Invaders and missed the second half. No. 2 scorer Rusty Troy injured his back but played the entire game. Coach Kenny Cooper said both would have been able to play yesterday and are probable for tomorrow night.

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