Spirit's defense ripped in 21-14 loss to Terror Weary Baltimore fails to overcome Iniguez's four first-half goals

March 17, 1996|By Bob Putnam | Bob Putnam,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - When the Spirit named defenseman Mike Stankovic coach Jan. 31, he implemented a more aggressive defensive style that helped produce victories in 10 of 11 games.

However, needing one more victory to set a franchise record for road victories in a season, the Spirit's defense proved to be vulnerable last night at the Bayfront Center.

Allowing five first-half goals, four by Tampa Bay forward Milo Iniguez, the Spirit fell, 21-14, to the Terror.

Baltimore, second in the American Division, dropped to 24-14. The Terror improved to 14-25.

"Definitely, the first half hurt," Stankovic said. "We're down 11-3, it was a very tough game and the team was tired."

The Spirit, playing the fifth game of a seven-game, season-ending road trip, beat the Silverbacks in Cincinnati, 12-3, Friday night.

"I think the deciding factor was the second quarter," Stankovic said. "But the team played well. We just need the rest. I'm going to give them off until Wednesday. Tonight, we just didn't have it."

Tampa Bay jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the first quarter. Iniguez scored three of the first four goals, including consecutive two-pointers.

Shawn Blakeman scored the other, a three-point shot.

Withstanding the first-half barrage in net for Baltimore was Joe Mallia, who, until last night, was 4-0 against the Terror. Mallia, though, left midway through the second quarter with a sprained left ankle, leaving the keeping duties to Cris Vaccaro.

Franklin McIntosh, looking to become Baltimore's first player with 50 goals and 50 assists in a season, scored his 48th goal in the second quarter, an unassisted three-pointer to cut the deficit to 9-3. It was the Spirit's only goal in the first half.

Not long after McIntosh's goal, Iniguez added his fourth, another two-pointer, giving Tampa Bay an 11-3 lead at the half.

In the third quarter, the Terror continued the scoring, getting a two-pointer from Billy Thompson and a three-pointer from Carlos Zavala to open a 16-7 lead.

Kevin Sloan stopped the onslaught for Baltimore, scoring his 61st goal of the season. Any momentum the Spirit gained with that goal was lost when McIntosh received a five-minute misconduct penalty shortly after Sloan's goal.

McIntosh's penalty was one of five misconducts Baltimore received.

Although Brad Smith netted a two-pointer for the Spirit during McIntosh's absence, Tampa Bay scored as well, getting a one-point shootout goal from Steve Kinsey and a two-point blast from Mali Walton.

"They [Baltimore] are a team that has been fired up," Tampa Bay coach Kenny Cooper said. "I told our players that we can't spot them six points. We came out and had our best performance of the year.

"This was a win against a quality opponent that is going to go far in the playoffs," said Cooper, a former Spirit coach. "Since we can't go, I'll be rooting for Baltimore to win it."

John Garvey, Sloan and Vacarro each scored in the fourth period for Baltimore.

Pub Date: 3/17/96

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