This week's story of the trials and tribulations of a league team comes compliments of the Blast's opponent in Montreal this evening,the Impact:
It was morning in Kansas City, a real "pea-souper" as they say in English movies, and the Montreal squad assembled in the hotel lobby was making suggestions as to how it was going to get to St. Louis for a game that night. No flights were coming into or going out of the airport and it appeared as if a bus was the only answer.
Finally, the skies cleared and the team was able to fly across Missouri just in time for the game. With very little warm-up, Montreal fell behind 9-0, but recovered to beat the division-leading Ambush, 16-12.
Heading home, the Impact's next assignment was the Cleveland Crunch, playing without its two aces, Hector Marinaro (calf injury) and Zoran Karic (groin pull). Montreal was hopeful of squaring its record at 10-10. It lost to an undermanned Crunch team, 11-8. Go figure.
Actually, the Crunch has been on a tear since losing Marinaro and Karic four games ago, winning them all, including a 13-10 win in Milwaukee, where the Wave rarely loses. Goalie Victor Nogueira had a two-year, 43-game winning streak at the Bradley Center broken in the game.
Goalies save the day
K.C. goalie Warren Westcoat is the league Player of the Week off his 32-save performance as the Attack was beating the Blast, 21-12, and Philadelphia Kixx, 12-11, both on the road. Westcoat beat out another goalkeeper, Otto Orf of Cleveland, who stopped 44 shots as the Crunch was going 3-0.
NPSL Offensive Player of the Month for January is Doug Miller of Buffalo, who tallied 45 points, including a seven-goal, two-assist game, as the Blizzard was going 4-3. Montreal defender Rudy Dolisact earned defensive plaudits for January.
Cleveland on move
By winning three games in four days, Cleveland (13-10) has closed to within a game of Milwaukee (14-9) in the Central Division. At one time, the Wave led by five games. Visiting teams won five of 10 games played last week, a breakthrough in a league where the home team wins about 70 percent of the time. The Blast is now 2-0 in OT this season after last year's Baltimore entry, the Spirit, was a luckless 0-7.
Opponent: Montreal Impact
Site: Molson Centre
Radio: WJFK (1300 AM)
Outlook: This is a biggie since the Impact holds a half-time lead over the Blast for the fifth and final spot in the American Conference playoff scramble. Montreal is on a two-game losing streak. It features a strong defensem which has allowed 83 fewer points than the Blast in one less game. Pable Ceccarelli in goal is one of three league goalies with a goals-against average under 10.00 (9.74). The Blast (10-13), after an 0-6 start, has won two of its last three road starts.