Blast falls flat, suffers 26-9 loss to Rockers

13-0 run in second period seals Detroit's victory

March 20, 2000|By John Wing | John Wing,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

TAMPA, Fla. -- Missed scoring chances and defensive breakdowns hindered the Blast, as the Detroit Rockers scored 13 unanswered points in the second period en route to a 26-9 win yesterday at the Ice Palace.

The Blast (23-15) started strong, building a 4-0 lead after the first quarter on goals by Jason Dieter and Shane Dougherty. But it failed to convert on some easy chances, including a clear shot on net off a two-on-one break by Denison Cabral and a missed shootout attempt by Mark Thomas.

Then the Rockers woke up.

Sean Bowers, in his fourth game back from a hamstring injury, got Detroit started with a short chip shot to the left of goalie Scott Hileman. Bowers, who wound up with three goals on the day, then fed Tim Ernst, who also beat Hileman to his left.

With the score then tied at 4-4, Detroit ripped off five consecutive goals, including two by the team's leading scorer, Lee Tschantret, to build a 13-4 halftime cushion.

Blast coach Kevin Healey said the effects of the team's six-game road trip caught up to his players.

"We were up early, but we didn't advance the ball when we had chances to score, and then their defense did a better job at getting back," Healey said. "I'd have to say the second quarter was one of the poorest stretches of play we've had all season. We dug ourselves a whole in the first half. This is the last game of a long road trip, and now we'll have to regroup."

The Blast caught a small break at the start of the third period, as Detroit took a foolish delay-of-game penalty, and Cabral punched in a shootout goal to cut the deficit to 13-5.

But Ernst answered with an improbable goal from a tough angle off a restart, and Bowers scored after aggressively driving toward the goal, pushing Detroit's lead to 17-5.

Barry Stitz added a late goal for the visitors, but that didn't prevent the Blast from suffering its worst margin of defeat of the season.

Detroit (17-22), meanwhile, moved to within one game of Wichita for the fourth and final playoff spot in the National Conference.

Despite the lopsided loss, Healey said he expects the Blast to return strong when it plays host to Philadelphia tomorrow.

"I think just about any team in the league would be envious of a 3-3 road trip," Healey said. "We're looking forward to getting back home in front of our home crowd and responding with a good performance on our way to the playoffs."

Blast 4 0 3 2 -- 9

Detroit 0 13 6 7 -- 26

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