Heat's Hamlett suspended 27 days for hit on Ukrop

November 30, 1993|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Staff Writer

The Harrisburg Heat's Denis Hamlett has drawn a 27-day suspension and a fine for breaking the jaw of Spirit rookie Rob Ukrop.

National Professional Soccer League commissioner Steve Paxos said yesterday that Spirit assistant coach Mike Stankovic also was suspended, for seven days, and fined for verbally abusing referees during the incident triggered by Ukrop's injury in the Spirit's 19-17 victory over Harrisburg on Nov. 19.

There were a league-record 58 penalty minutes in the game and the Spirit's 38 were a record for one team.

Also fined were the Heat's Franklin McIntosh and Lee Tschantret for standing over the prostrate Ukrop and taunting him, and the Spirit's Tarik Walker for being the first one off the bench in the brawl after the injury. All fines were of undisclosed amounts.

Neither Hamlett nor Stankovic can participate in practices during the suspensions. Hamlett will miss four games, and Stankovic will miss only Saturday's game against the Buffalo Blizzard at the Baltimore Arena.

"Hamlett will be on probation for 15 days after his suspension ends," Paxos said. "That will be a reminder that if there's a next time, the league will be even more serious. All of these punishments are for conduct unbecoming to the league and the game of soccer."

Ukrop was struck twice in the jaw by Hamlett, by a shoulder and then an elbow. Broken in two places, his jaw is reinforced by a steel plate. Ukrop will be out at least eight weeks.

"The league has to make this type of decision, and we'll abide by it," said Harrisburg coach Jim Pollihan.

Spirit coach Kenny Cooper had no quarrel with Paxos' rulings, but continued to lament that Ukrop "was on line to score 85 to 100 points" before the injury. Asked if he felt Hamlett's suspension was severe enough, Cooper said, "Yeah."

"Steve is a firm commissioner," Cooper said. "Leagues with firm commissioners are the most successful. I'll support him. He rules with an iron fist, which is good."

10th in attendance

The Spirit is 10th in the 12-team league in home attendance with an average of 4,878 after five dates.

"Pretty amazing that a 7-0 team would be third from the bottom in attendance," said owner Bill Stealey. "The good news is that we're ahead of last year's pace [4,771 average]."

The Spirit is above Canton (2,809) and Dayton (2,744) and just below Cleveland (5,849), Kansas City (5,245) and Harrisburg (5,062).

"Cleveland and Kansas City have new arenas and Harrisburg is in a suburban area with free parking," Stealey said. "I think we can catch those three. We've always done better after Christmas. We're shooting to raise our average above 5,800."

Stealey received assurances in a meeting yesterday with Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke that the Greater Baltimore Committee's "sports committee would get more involved with us. We especially hope we'll have large fan support from the GBC for our three TV [ESPN2] games [Dec. 17, Feb. 11 and March 11]. We want to fill the Arena in front of national TV."

After 41 games, NPSL average attendance is up 18.5 percent, to 6,177, over last season. The league's overall average for the season was 5,213.

Miscellaneous

The Wichita Wings' Tatu was named NPSL Player of the Week after scoring 11 points (five two-point goals, one assist) in a 25-13 win over the Dayton Dynamo. It was Tatu's second straight five-goal performance, propelling him to No. 4 in the league's points race. . . . ESPN2 will carry the Chicago-at-Cleveland game Friday at 7 p.m., its first under a three-year contract with the NPSL. . . . The first 3,000 youngsters under 16 will receive free youth fanny packs at the Spirit's game against Buffalo on Saturday night. The Spirit expects the crowd to top its season high of 6,191 for the opener. Buffalo's Rudy Pikuzinski, No. 4 in points (165) in the NPSL last season, has only 14 points in four games after reporting late to training camp. The Blizzard's Kris Kelderman has missed the past two games with a stubbed toe and is questionable for Saturday.

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