Thunder ends drought with overtime win Blazers rally in 4th for tie, but Wills clinches 1st victory

February 09, 1997|By Dan Hickling | Dan Hickling,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

BOSTON -- It took a tough performance for the Thunder to notch its first win of the Major Indoor Lacrosse League season, and before a FleetCenter crowd estimated at 6,500 it got it, going to overtime before defeating the Boston Blazers, 11-10, last night.

The game-winner was scored by Jeff Wills, who whipped in a 10-footer over the shoulder of Boston goaltender Marty O'Neill 1: 26 into sudden death.

He had taken a crossing pass from Jeff Klodzen at right wing, and got his shot off just as he was about to be checked by a Blazers defender.

Baltimore (1-4) had sported a 10-8 lead in the final stretches of the fourth quarter, but had to hold on for dear life, as the Blazers (2-4) came back to tie the game with goals 35 seconds apart.

Dan Radebaugh of the Thunder was sent off with 4: 30 left, when he crunched Boston forward David Donovan from behind.

Thunder penalty killers had done a solid job, although the Blazers' Randy Fraser hit a crossbar just before Tom Carmean scored from 20 feet away to cut the lead to one.

Moments later Charlie Blanchard scored to tie the game with 2: 15 remaining in regulation.

That set the stage for Wills' dramatics.

"We really needed a gritty game tonight," said Thunder coach John Tucker, "and we got it. Our defense played well for us, and that's what made the difference."

Boston coach Ron Fraser agreed.

"They were able to blunt our attack," he said, "especially in the cylinder."

Blanchard had scored twice earlier, including one at 4: 30 of the first period to open the scoring. Boston led 2-0 by the 5: 15 mark, but the Thunder, which got its goals in bunches, came back with the next three.

It netted four more to lead 7-6 at halftime, but then saw Boston put on its fourth-quarter charge.

Tim Holmes led the Thunder with three goals and Klodzen had a goal and four assists. Blanchard's three goals led the Blazers' attack.

Baltimore, which finished last season with a 4-6 record, hasn't had a winning season since 1991.

Tucker, a seven-time All-Pro and two-time league MVP, expressed confident in getting the team "over the hump" before this, his first season as Thunder coach.

The Thunder will have to wait before trying to take another step in that direction. Its next game isn't until Feb. 22, when the Thunder plays host to first-place Philadelphia.

After a game against New York on March 1, the Thunder closes out the season with three games on the road.

Pub Date: 2/09/97

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