KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Perhaps it was the hangover from a division-clinching win two nights earlier.
Whatever the case, a horrible first quarter, while temporarily overcome, ultimately doomed the Blast to a 20-15 loss at the hands of the Kansas City Attack last night.
The loss dropped the Blast's record to 24-16, leaving it dead even with the Cleveland Crunch for the top record in the American Conference. Each team has four games remaining in the race for home-field advantage throughout the conference playoffs.
"I think we were ready to play," said Blast coach Kevin Healey. "Kansas City really executed and hit some great shots early. They were taking advantage of every mistake we made.
"I'm really proud of the guys. They really battled back. That's what championship teams do. Wes Wade just came through for them in the end. We had our chances, but Kansas City kept their emotions in check and finished strongly."
The Blast, which laid a 19-2 drubbing on the Attack in the fourth quarter of a 34-15 win in Baltimore on Feb. 20, had the favor returned, at least in part, by a 12-0 Kansas City run to start last night's game.
Wade tapped in a pass from Justin Cottrell at the right post a minute in, starting the run. Wade finished it nine minutes later with a hard shot from the left corner that slipped just under the crossbar.
In between, the Attack got two goals from Lester Felician, one by Novica Marojevic and a shootout goal by Clovis Simas that put the Blast in a hole that appeared too deep for them to overcome.
But then the Blast answered with a 7-1 second quarter. Denison Cabral finally put the Blast on the board with a shot from the top of the key, just inside the three-point arc. The official at first signaled three points, but the goal ultimately went on the scoreboard as two.
A Cabral shootout goal, and goals by Mark Thomas and Paul Wright pulled the Blast to within 13-7 at halftime. When Tarik Walker and Barry Stitz scored in the first 1: 19 of the third quarter, Baltimore was within 13-11, and it was Kansas City that was reeling.
Eleven minutes later, Wright raced downfield with the ball and spotted Stitz breaking in alone on the left. With Attack goalkeeper Warren Westcoat coming out of goal to defend Wright, a quick, short pass, allowed Stitz to punch the ball into an empty net, tying the score at 13.
But the Blast had climbed out of the hole only to fall back down. Wade completed his hat trick with a back-heel shot from inside the Blast box, then scored a fourth goal with a fortunate deflection, again from inside the box, which made it 17-13.
Wright scored again midway through the quarter, pulling the Blast to within two. But that was as close as the visitors would get.
The Blast pulled its goalie for a sixth attacker with 2 1/2 minutes left, but couldn't penetrate the Attack's defense.
Blast 0 7 6 2 -- 15
Kansas City 12 1 0 7 -- 20
First quarter--1. Kansas City, Wade 2pt (Cottrell), 1: 02; 2. Kansas City, Felician 3pt (Houser), 3: 11; 3. Kansas City, Simas 1pt, 3: 39; 4. Kansas City, Felician 2pt (Westcoat), 5: 16; 5. Kansas City, Marojevic 2pt (Westcoat), 7: 43; 6. Kansas City, Wade 2pt (Davis), 10: 21.
Second quarter--7. Blast, Cabral 2pt, 1: 08; 8. Blast, Cabral 1pt, 8: 30; 9. Kansas City, Simas 1pt, 8: 30; 10. Blast, Thomas 2pt (Wright), 9: 20; 11. Blast, Wright 2pt (Thomas), 14: 37;
Third quarter--12. Blast, Walker 2pt (Rasmussen), : 54; 13. Blast, Stitz 2pt (Dougherty), 1: 19; 14. Blast, Stitz 2pt. (Wright), 12: 45;
Fourth quarter--15. Kansas City, Wade 2pt (Houser), 3: 09; 16. Kansas City, Wade 2pt (Cottrell), 4: 17; 17. Blast, Wright 2pt (Dougherty), 7: 43; 18. Kansas City, Houser 3pt, 14: 52.
Shots on goal--Blast 7-14-5-632. Kansas City 9-7-7-932. Power-play opportunities--Blast 0-for-0. Kansas City 0-for-0. Goalies--Blast, Tenney 1-3-4-412 (12 saves), Kelly 0-0-0-00 (0 saves). Kansas City, Westcoat 4-3-1-210. (10 saves). Zimmermann 0-0-0-00. (0 saves). A--3,017.