PITTSBURGH — PITTSBURGH -- Pat Welsh's goal at 13:10 of the fourth quarter gave the Thunder a 16-14 victory over the winless Pittsburgh Bulls before 6,275 at the Civic Arena last night.
The victory practically guarantees a Major Indoor Lacrosse League playoff spot for the Thunder (2-5), which is now 1 1/2 games ahead of Pittsburgh (0-6) with one game to play. Six of the league's seven teams qualify for the playoffs.
"We're just thrilled to get a win. It's been a long time coming," Thunder coach John Stewart said. "Our face-off guys did a good job of getting us the ball and our goalie David Lee kept us in the game the first half."
Butch Marino scored three goals in the fourth quarter -- including one at 14:38 -- to provide the final margin of victory.
Rick Sowell also had a hat trick for the Thunder, who led for most of the game until the Bulls tied it at 14-14, with less than three minutes to play.
It took the Thunder a mere 62 seconds to score the game's first goal on a strong effort by Sowell. For Sowell, who ran past Bulls defenders as if they were standing still, it was his fifth goal of the season.
"We knew whether we were up early or down early we were in for a long game," Sowell said. "Both teams were hungry for a win."
The Bulls tied the score 45 seconds later on Tim Hormes' sixth goal of the season, but the Thunder scored the next three to take a 4-1 lead after one quarter. Jim Blanding, Jeff Jackson and Pat Welsh scored for the Thunder.
Jeff Wills and Brian Nikula scored power-play goals for the Bulls, but Sowell and Tim Welsh, who scored his 12th goal, put the Thunder in front 6-3 at intermission.
The Thunder started the second half even quicker than they started the game.
Marino tied Tim Welsh, by scoring his 12th goal at 37 seconds.
The Bulls cut it back to three goals on a breakaway score by Adam Wright at 6:10 and then pulled to within two 43 seconds later on an unassisted goal by Matt Wilson.
Pittsburgh cut the lead to 7-6 on a goal by Mark Gold at 8:19. At that point, Stewart called a timeout.
Whatever Stewart said apparently made an impact. Less than a minute later, Tony Millon scored at 9:07.
Lindsey Dixon's power-play goal at 11:28 pulled Pittsburgh back within one.