With Giuliano Celenza back in the rotation after an eight-week absence, the Blast turned in one of its most efficient efforts of the season last night at 1st Mariner Arena.
Unlike the first meeting with the Chicago Storm here when he scored three goals within five minutes, Celenza ceded the offensive honors to defender P.J. Wakefield, but it meant a lot just to have him on the field in a workmanlike 10-4 victory over Chicago before 4,539 fans.
Wakefield had two goals and an assist, and veteran Lee Tschantret scored the final Blast goal against a six-attacker formation to pull to within one point of 1,000 for his career.
"Giuls hadn't played in weeks, and I think he played well," coach Danny Kelly said. "Even when he's not scoring, he can create things. He gave us that offensive presence."
"It always helps to get another threat in the lineup," said Wakefield, who knocked in a carom off an assist by Celenza for his first goal. "They had to mark him, so that leaves somebody else open. We're getting guys back, so that means a lot."
The Blast (7-8) is expected to welcome back Adauto Neto, the reigning Major Indoor Soccer League Most Valuable Player, for some duty tonight.
It was an important win for a team that reached the midway point of the season needing to make a concerted drive toward the playoffs. The Blast caught Chicago (8-8) in the midst of six straight games on the road, three of them between last Wednesday and tonight.
In its previous clash in Chicago, the Blast was riddled with injuries. The Storm overcame a seven-point deficit in the fourth quarter to prevail, 21-19.
"This was a good team win," Kelly said. "The things we talked about, we went out and did. We didn't play great, but we played good, worked hard, tackled, blocked shots and finished chances."
The Storm could not convert on two power-play opportunities, while the Blast scored once in an extra-man situation. Robbie Aristodemo added a goal and an assist.
"It seems like things were just clicking," said Wakefield, the team captain. "We knew going in it was a critical game. We had good, intense practices this week and we had to get a win to set the tempo for [today, against Detroit]."
"It'll be nice to see how we do with everybody back in the lineup," Kelly said. "But we still need to do a lot of little things better."
Matchup -- Detroit Ignition (10-7) at Blast (7-8)
Site -- 1st Mariner Arena
Time -- 7:35 p.m.
Radio -- WCBM (680 AM)
Series -- Detroit leads 2-1
Outlook -- Adauto Neto, the league's reigning Most Valuable Player, is expected to return on a part-time basis for the Blast, serving on power plays and perhaps free kicks. He has not played all season after undergoing surgery last August to repair a fracture in his left tibia. The expansion Ignition has won seven of its past 10, but it lost at Philadelphia last Saturday to fall out of a virtual tie for first place. Detroit is one of two teams to beat the next-to-last place Blast in Baltimore.