Revised lineup gives Thunder first win, 12-10, over New York

March 13, 1994|By Steven Kivinski | Steven Kivinski,Contributing Writer

If someone had told Skip Lichtfuss that his Baltimore Thunder would do better without John Tucker, Dave Pietramala and Bill Dirrigl, the first-year coach probably would have laughed in his face.

With those three names gracing the Thunder roster for the first six games, Baltimore failed to win, forcing it to defeat the New York Saints in its last two regular-season games to earn a playoff berth in the Major Indoor Lacrosse League.

Last night, with those three standouts out of uniform, the Thunder got the first of those two needed wins, 12-10, before 7,085 at Baltimore Arena.

The Thunder, tied with New York in the American Division at 1-6, will battle the Saints for the final playoff spot March 26 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.

"I thought the guys played with poise and every time we needed one they came back and got it," said Lichtfuss, who lost Tucker to a shoulder injury and Pietramala and Dirrigl to "outside commitments."

Lichtfuss started eight-year veteran Kevin Bilger in the net and the move paid off as Bilger earned game MVP honors with 39 saves.

The Thunder jumped on New York early and took a 3-0 lead with 8:46 left in the first quarter on Butch Marino's power-play goal, assisted by Tom Gravante.

Lindsay Dixon found the net first on a feed from Tim Welsh, and Jeff Wills made it 2-0 with an unassisted goal 4:35 into the game.

The Saints pulled back within one on goals by Gordon Purdie and Mark Millon.

Dixon's second goal gave Baltimore another short-lived two-goal lead as New York's leading scorer, Mike Cummings, closed out the first-quarter scoring with one second left.

New York tied it 15 seconds into the second quarter and took its first lead with 9:39 left in the half on Steve Huff's short-handed goal.

Brian Kroneberger evened it for Baltimore with an unassisted goal at 5:21, and Welsh and Tim Hormes scored in the final 26 seconds, giving Baltimore a 7-5 lead at the half.

Jeff Jackson's goal, assisted by Gravante and Bilger, was the only Thunder score in the third. New York scored twice in the third and trailed by one entering the fourth.

Baltimore did something in the fourth quarter that it failed to do all season -- it held on to the lead.

Kroneberger, Wills and Klodzen made it 11-7 with 7:15 left.

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