Npsl Teams At A Glance

October 21, 1994|By Complied by Doug Brown

AMERICAN DIVISION

Buffalo Blizzard

Arena: Memorial Auditorium (16,200), Buffalo, N.Y.

Last season: 19-21 (third in division; lost in division semifinals to Cleveland).

Coaches' prediction: Third.

Coach: Peter Skouras (first season).

Key players: Brothers Rudy (113 points) and Randy Pikuzinski (82); Paul Dougherty; G Jeff Robben, acquired with a draft pick and cash for All-Star G Jamie Swanner.

Outlook: The Pikuzinskis and Dougherty give Buffalo one of the quickest lines in the league. The loss of Swanner is likely to hurt. Buffalo was third in the division each of the past two seasons. The Blizzard led the NPSL in average attendance (8,333) last season.

Canton Invaders

Arena: Zrr Canton Civic Center (4,200), Canton, Ohio

Last season: 18-22 (fifth in division).

Coaches' prediction: Sixth.

Coach: Denzil Antonio (first season).

Key players: Player/coach Antonio; G P. J. Johns; D Chico Moreira and Doug Swanson; F Marcelo Carrera (98 points).

Outlook: Antonio leads a defense featuring Johns and backup G Chris Damico, who played well as a rookie last season. Carrera leads the offense. Antonio was a key on Canton's five-time NPSL champions in the 1980s, but the Invaders have failed to qualify for the playoffs the past two seasons.

Cleveland Crunch

Arena: Cleveland State University Convocation Center (12,493), Solon, Ohio.

Last season: 23-17 (second in division; won NPSL championship).

Coaches' prediction: First.

Coach: Gary Hindley (third season in Cleveland, 48-32; fourth in NPSL, 51-38).

Key players: Zoran Karic, league MVP and points (267) leader; Hector Marinaro, who had his second straight 100-plus-goal season; D Tim Tyma is back for his 11th season; MF Andy Schmetzer; GK Otto Orf.

Outlook: The Crunch again has the league's most potent one-two punch in Karic and Marinaro. Karic was second to Marinaro in goals with 85. Gone is the Crunch's best defender, George Fernandez. After losing to Kansas City in the 1993 final, Cleveland captured the title last season by defeating St. Louis in four games.

Dayton Dynamo

Arena: Dayton Convocation Center (4,700), Dayton, Ohio

Last season: 15-25 (sixth in division).

Coaches' prediction: Fourth.

Coach: Terry Nicholl (third season in Dayton, 35-45; fifth in NPSL, 72-65).

Key players: G Carlos Pena, D Jeff Popp and M Scott Cook and Terry Bono, captain and the team's all-time leading scorer; F Dennis Brose; Rob Ukrop and Clark Brisson, acquired from the Spirit for Kevin Sloan and Joe Mallia.

Outlook: Pena, Popp, Cook and Bono are holdovers from the club that gained the NPSL final in 1990 and 1991; the Dynamo has yet to win a championship. Brose led Dayton with 145 points in only 28 games. Brisson tied for fourth among the Spirit's scorers with 73 points, and Ukrop scored 30 as a rookie.

Harrisburg Heat

Arena: State Farm Show Arena (7,600), Harrisburg, Pa.

Last season: 19-21 (fourth in division; lost in division final to Cleveland).

Coaches' prediction: Fifth.

Coach: Jim Pollihan (fourth season, 65-55).

Key players: G Scoop Stanisic; M Danny Kelly; F Mark Pulisic; F Tom Bialek.

Outlook: The Heat signed Stanisic, who was a free agent, and traded G Brett Phillips to Kansas City for Bialek and considerations. Kelly is back after a season shortened by injuries, as is Pulisic, who had 86 points. The Heat eliminated the Spirit in the first round of the playoffs each of the past two seasons.

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