Hartlove steps in, steps up in a pinch to boost Spirit

January 23, 1994|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Staff Writer

For Spirit reserve goalie Brian Hartlove, it was hauntingly familiar.

The situation: No. 1 goalie Cris Vaccaro penalized for a handball. . . . Enemy shootout attempt thwarted by Hartlove. . . . Shots on power play blocked by Hartlove. . . . Vaccaro back in to complete 14-11 victory.

That was last Jan. 24 against the Kansas City Attack. Friday night against the Wichita Wings, with 3:52 remaining and the Spirit holding a tenuous 16-14 lead, Vaccaro again was penalized for a handball.

Again, in stepped Hartlove. The sometimes No. 2 goalie and sometimes No. 3. A man who hadn't played since Nov. 6.

Hartlove well remembered that Nov. 6 game because the Canton Invaders bombarded him with three-pointers after the Spirit entered the fourth quarter with a 13-point lead. Vaccaro returned to throw in a couple of open-net goals and the Spirit held on for a 25-18 win.

"Canton was preying on my mind," Hartlove said after acquitting himself splendidly in the 18-14 triumph over Wichita. "There were other things, too -- a back injury that kept me out three weeks. And I was dropped from No. 2 to No. 3. I had only suited up the last three games."

Cold? Hartlove couldn't have been much colder.

"It was like a pinch-hitter coming up in the bottom of the ninth and expected to perform," said Hartlove.

He performed. The graduate of Perry Hall High, Essex Community College and West Virginia stopped the shootout attempt by Terry Woodberry, who had converted 17 of 21 previous opportunities.

"The game was on the line and Brian had great focus," said Spirit coach Kenny Cooper. "He held his position, held his position, held his position, finally forcing Woodberry to go wide to his left and miss."

Hartlove picked up two saves in the ensuing power-play situation before Vaccaro returned. Paul Wright, who tied Goran Hunjak's team record with five goals in a single game, kicked in his final one with 31 seconds left to clinch it.

The score had been tied twice at 12 and 14, and Wichita led 14-12 with 11:10 left. The turning point, in Wings coach Roy Turner's opinion, came with the score tied at 14 when Wright elbowed goalie Kris Peat, who wound up in the penalty box after elbowing Wright in return.

"That's always the way -- the guy who retaliates gets penalized," Turner said.

With reserve Nat Gonzalez in the goal for 40 seconds, the Spirit scored two one-point goals for a 16-14 lead.

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