No sooner had Franklin McIntosh and Brett Phillips shown up from distant points of call last week than they were not only assigned locker space but key positions in the Blast's scheme of things.
Their presence was felt immediately.
Phillips, a goalkeeper, played five minutes on his first night in uniform to get a feel for the team, then went the distance the next night with a 10-save fourth quarter, preserving the team's 13-12 victory Saturday over Harrisburg.
The performance surprised no one with a recollection of NPSL history. Three seasons back, Phillips had a 20-4 record and a sub-10 goals-against average for the Kansas City Attack as the team made it to the final of the playoffs before losing to Cleveland. "Every game was very close," recalls Crunch coach Gary Miller. "He was easily one of the league's best goalies."
Prior to 1995-96 in Kansas City, Phillips played two seasons in Harrisburg, posting records of 11-6 and 9-3. Teammate Brad Smith said, "Brett kicks well with either foot and he has a great [throwing] arm. And he's only going to get better because he's rusty now after having not played for months."
Meanwhile, McIntosh, who was sent to Baltimore for cash and a future draft pick after St. Louis failed to re-sign him, took his turn on one of the team's forward lines and produced immediately vs. the Heat, providing three flashy assists.
In the space of just a day or two, the Blast improved its lot at least 33 percent.
Jason Willan, with 21 points in two games, including an eight-goal, 15-point performance in Milwaukee's 37-5 victory over Cleveland, took NPSL Player of the Week honors. The ex-Rookie of the Year (Detroit 1995-96) had two goals and seven points prior to the explosion. The NPSL amateur draft will be conducted via conference call on Tuesday. The expansion Florida Thundercats get the first pick in the territorial round and the four regular rounds as well. The Blast-Philadelphia Kixx game at the Arena next Friday is live on HTS (7: 35 p.m.).
Last week, the Crunch's Hector Marinaro fell to second place behind Ken Snow of St. Louis on the NPSL scoring list, so next chance he got he tallied two three-pointers, a pair of deuces and an assist against Baltimore to overtake his rival. Detroit goalkeeper Bryan Finnerty had to have some idea what Custer and his troops faced at the Little Big Horn in a recent game against Buffalo. Brothers Randy and Rudy Pikuzinski and Bernie Lilavois all had hat tricks as the Blizzard prevailed, 23-14.
Sometimes an injury can help a team. During the first week of the season, Florida's forward line was decimated, so the Thundercats hustled out and signed Jeff Betts. Voila! Betts turned in a hat trick almost immediately and, against Wichita on Saturday, registered four goals and 11 points during a 26-20 triumph.
Opponent: Florida Thundercats
Site: National Car Rental Center, Broward County, Fla.
Time: 7: 35
Radio: WJFK (1300 AM)
Outlook: The Blast defeated the 'Cats, 21-9, two weeks ago in Baltimore with a 15-2 second half after trailing at intermission, 7-6. The Blast had eight goal-scorers led by a pair by Danny Santoro. Florida (5-8) defeated Detroit and Wichita before losing to Buffalo last weekend. The Blast has yet to win on the road, dropping three contests.
Pub Date: 12/11/98