Punishment for the Spirit's Goran Hunjak and the Buffalo Blizzard's Ralph Black for their fight was relatively light.
After reviewing the tape of the fight in the first quarter of the Jan. 7 game, National Professional Soccer League officials said neither player would be suspended. Both were fined an undisclosed amount after they were ejected for fighting. An ejection brings an automatic fine.
"Pending further review, additional fines could be levied," said Paul Luchowski, NPSL director of operations.
The incident began with a Hunjak push, followed by a Black left hand to Hunjak's eye. Hunjak then yanked Black's head down and kneed him in the face. Both players drew blood.
"It was tough enough that both players couldn't play the rest of the game," Spirit coach Kenny Cooper said. "I'm glad neither one was punished further."
Only Dayton draws blank
In the first round of three-games-in-three-nights, the St. Louis Ambush was 2-1, Buffalo and the Wichita Wings were 1-2 and the Dayton Dynamo was 0-3. Buffalo and Wichita each won on the third night.
All NPSL teams have two demanding three-in-three stretches. The Spirit's are Feb. 11-13 and 25-27.
Target men big producers
The Spirit's main target men -- Dan O'Keefe, Tarik Walker and Rob Ukrop -- have combined for 38 goals, seven assists and 80 of the team's 391 points. Walker has 27 points and O'Keefe has 36 despite missing five games with a sprained knee, and Ukrop has 17 after missing 11 with a broken jaw.
"I'm delighted [about] what they've done at this punishing position," Cooper said, noting that a target man often plays with his back to the goal and absorbs abuse against the boards.
The best of Cooper
Cooper puts a motivational proverb on the Spirit blackboard before every game. Last Friday's: "Don't give them enough room to sweat."
Said Cooper after the 13-11 overtime victory over Harrisburg: "You try to outwork people and not give them time and space. Any time you hold a team to 10 or 11 points, you're doing well."
Cooper's offering Saturday night: "Teamwork means implementing action."
"I try to plant a seed in a player's mind, to give him something to think about, as a stimulus and challenge, a mental edge," he said.
Wings coming next
The Wichita Wings, who will visit here Friday for the teams'
first meeting of the season, are the only club
the Spirit hasn't beaten in its two years in the NPSL. Wichita has a 2-0 edge.
The Wings are one of only four teams to beat the Spirit here. The others are the Detroit Rockers, Cleveland Crunch and Harrisburg Heat. The Spirit is 29-4 lifetime at the Arena, 11-1 this season.
After Friday night's game, youngsters 16 and under who got free Spirit T-shirts last week can have them autographed by the players on the field. A tape of the game will be shown Saturday at 12:30 p.m. on Channel 2. . . . The Spirit's average home attendance for 12 dates is 5,936, up from 4,552 at the same point last season. . . . Turnabout is fair play: After losing to the Kansas City Attack, 26-10, Friday night in K.C., the Wings routed the Attack, 26-11, 24 hours later in Wichita. . . . O'Keefe is under consideration for NPSL Player of the Week after back-to-back hat tricks against Harrisburg and the Canton Invaders. . . . The 54 points in St. Louis' 28-26 overtime win Sunday over Dayton were the second most in NPSL history, behind the 56 by Dayton and Detroit this season and ahead of the 50 by Baltimore and Detroit last season.