Rally falls short as Blast loses again

Team digs hole in second straight defeat

Cougars 12 Blast 10

December 02, 2007|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,Special To The Sun

The Blast pushed the California Cougars around, created numerous scoring chances and got three goals and six points in the game's final 10 minutes last night. But the Blast's problem was what happened before that.

California jumped out to an early six-goal lead, and the Blast rallied to cut the deficit to two twice in the fourth quarter. But the Cougars hung on to hand the Blast its second loss in two nights, a 12-10 decision in front of an announced 8,604 at 1st Mariner Arena.

The Blast entered the weekend with a 5-0 record, but lost, 11-4, to the Detroit Ignition on Friday, and the strong fourth quarter wasn't enough in this game. Blast coach Danny Kelly didn't want to use playing on back-to-back nights as an excuse, but the long travel day appeared to have an effect.

After Friday's game in Detroit, the Blast (5-2) got up at 5 a.m. to fly back to Baltimore and got a few hours of rest before this game.

"The team looked a little bit tired," Blast goalie Sagu said. "But in the fourth quarter, we played very good. California had luck tonight; we didn't have luck."

The game was filled with missed opportunities for the Blast and plenty of mistakes that helped California (4-3). On offense, the Blast hit the crossbar at least four times and had a few other shots that just rolled wide of Cougars goalie Sanaldo (10 saves).

"We had chances to win the game," Kelly said. "We just didn't put the ball into the net. ... We had trouble finishing."

The mistakes also proved crucial. Three Blast penalties led to two Cougar power-play goals and eight points.

The Blast started slowly after not doing much offensively throughout the final three quarters of Friday's loss in Detroit. Its scoreless streak stretched to 69 minutes, 16 seconds before Carlos Garcia scored midway through the second quarter.

"We didn't play well in both games against good teams," said the Blast's Denison Cabral.

California already had taken a 6-0 lead by the time Garcia (two two-point goals and one assist) redirected a shot by Marco Bedenikovic past Sanaldo with 8:22 left in the first half. The Blast cut the lead to 6-4 on a goal by Machel Millwood just under two minutes later.

Sagu went off after a two-minute penalty for dangerous play with 3:56 remaining in the half, and California's Semir Mesanovic then beat Dave Kern on the subsequent shootout to give the Cougars an 8-4 halftime lead.

The Blast rallied in the fourth quarter when Cabral passed the 800-point plateau with his goal to cut the California lead to 10-6 with 9:59 remaining.

Garcia's second goal sliced the lead to two before Chris Handsor (three two-point goals) beat Sagu from a tough angle to make it 12-8 with 8:11 left. Lucio answered for the Blast with 6:46 left off a pass from Garcia.

Cougars 4 4 0 4 - 12

Blast 0 4 0 6 - 10

First quarter: 1. California, Handsor, 9:26; 2. California, Handsor (Mesanovic), 12:58 (pp). Penalties: Blast, Lucio (2-minute, multiple fouls in a half), 12:26. Second quarter: 3. California, Pinto (Tovar), 1:04; 4. Blast, Garcia (Bedenikovic), 6:39 (pp). 5. Blast, Millwood, 8:26. 6. California, Mesanovic, 11:04 (shootout) (ppg). Penalties: California, Hall (2-minute, dangerous play), 5:39. Blast, Millwood (5-minute misconduct), 8:26; Blast, Sagu (2-minute, dangerous play), 11:03. Third quarter: None. Penalties: None. Fourth quarter: 7. California, McNeeley (Sanaldo), 2:24; 8. Blast, Cabral (Todd), 5:01; 9. Blast, Garcia (Nelson), 5:48; 10. California, Handsor (Velez), 6:49; 11. Blast, Lucio (Garcia), 8:14. Penalties: California, Chantel (tripping), 11:17. Shots: California, 6-4-4-3-17; Blast, 5-8-2-11-26; Saves: California: Sanaldo, 10; Blast: Sagu 7, Kern 0. Att: 8,604.

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