The Thunder couldn't find the net in the first quarter of yesterday's National Lacrosse League semifinal against the visiting Rochester Knighthawks.
In the second quarter, Baltimore couldn't seem to miss it.
After being shut out in the opening quarter, the Thunder scored 10 goals in the second and then matched the Knighthawks the rest of the way to claim a 15-14 victory and a berth in the NLL best-of-three championship series.
Baltimore will face the Philadelphia Wings, who advanced Saturday by defeating the Buffalo Bandits, 17-12, next weekend at an undetermined site and time.
"I think we thought we were going to get away with an easy one at first because we beat them last week and we were feeling pretty good about ourselves," said Thunder forward Paul Cantabene of the first-quarter scoring drought. "We said, 'We got to play guys. It's going to be a game.' We got on a real big roll. Any time you score 10 goals in a quarter in a box game, that's something special."
The crowd of 3,427 in the Baltimore Arena to see the Thunder in the playoffs for the first time in five years seemed to appreciate it.
Trailing Rochester 4-0, Baltimore (9-4) opened the second quarter by scoring four goals in a span of 1: 17. Tim Hormes, who scored what proved to be the game-winner with 10: 28 left, scored the Thunder's first two goals -- 42 seconds apart -- before Gary Gait (four goals, four assists) and Cantabene scored quick goals to knot it at 4.
Ted Dowling regained the lead for the Knighthawks, but the Thunder answered with another four-goal run that stretched the lead to 8-5.
The Thunder expanded its lead to four in the third quarter but saw it shrink to one with 6: 26 left.
The defending-champion Kni- ghthawks (6-7) had their chances down the stretch but lost possession twice in the last two minutes because of shot-clock violations.
A key ground ball by Chris Panos in the final minute let the Thunder eat up the remaining time.
"In the beginning, we were a step slow, and Rochester kind of took the game to us. But to our credit, we bounced back," said Thunder coach John Tucker, who cited Dan Radebaugh, John Tillman, Tony Millon Warner Krueger, Kip Fulks and Jeff Klodzen for their strong defensive play.
Thunder 15, Rochester 14
Philadelphia 17, Buffalo 12
(Best of 3)
Thunder vs. Philadelphia
Dates and times, TBA
Pub Date: 4/20/98