Scrappy Blast falls, 25-14, in Montreal; Baltimore allows 17 points in 2nd half; 15th loss sparks post-game fighting


MONTREAL -- You've heard the old joke about going to a fight only to have a hockey game break out.

So perhaps it's fitting that in this, the cradle of hockey, the Blast and Montreal Impact would be party to a floor full of skirmishes at the conclusion of Baltimore's 25-14 loss last night.

The wild scene, which featured jersey-pulling and hog-tying but few actual punches, was the culmination of tensions that had been building for most of the second half, in which Baltimore was outscored 17-7.

"You had a team winning by double digits, and they're yelling at us," said Blast coach Kevin Healey. At issue was the aggressive tactics used by the Blast in the final minutes as it tried to claw back from a 25-11 hole.

"I don't care what the score is," said Blast attacker Tarik Walker, who had two goals. "I don't care how much time is left, when you're losing, you've got to try to win the game."

Montreal coach Paul Kitson said that Baltimore may have had more than closing the scoring gap on its mind.

"It's one thing to show your coach that you are playing hard," Kitson said, "but it's not necessary to try to hurt players on the other team."

Impact rookie Jocelyn Roy may have added fuel to the fiery feelings with five minutes to go, with his exuberant celebration after a three-pointer before a season-high Molson Centre crowd of 4,325.

Whether the brawl will result in fines or suspensions by the league remains to be seen. The only thing that was clear was that the Blast (11-15) missed a chance to nose ahead of Montreal (12-13) for a playoff spot.

After falling behind 4-2 midway through the first period, Baltimore worked its way into a 7-4 lead on goals by Ronald Simmons and Barry Stitz. Both players finished off setups by Franklin McIntosh.

Simmons connected from three-point range at 8: 56, after McIntosh hit him from across the floor. Two minutes later, McIntosh, working against defender Rudy Doliscat, fought his way through the slot, then dropped off a soft heel pass to Stitz, who had plenty of room to blast a 15-footer.

Khalil Azmi, who started the game for the Blast, assumed the roles of hero, then goat. Azmi made brilliant saves in succession on Chris Stathopoulos and John Limniates, but with 9.5 seconds left in the period, he let Grant Needham's tight angle shot squib through his arms, which let Montreal cut the lead to 7-6.

Blast 7 0 4 3 -- 14

Montreal 6 2 8 9 -- 25

First period--Montreal, Oliviero 2pt (Pizzolitto) 1: 36; Blast, Cabral 2pt (Walker) 3: 15; Montreal, Mella 2pt (Oliviero) 5: 55; Blast, Simmons 3pt (McIntosh) 8: 56; Blast, Stitz, 2pt (McIntosh) 10: 57; Montreal, Needham 2pt (Dalombo) 14: 50. Penalties--None.

Second period--Montreal, Dalombo 2pt (Pizzolitto) 7: 56. Penalties--Blast, Azmi (tripping) 9: 55.

Third period--Blast, Walker 2pt (McIntosh) 2: 20; Montreal, Stathopoulos 2pt (Needham) 3: 27; Montreal, Needham 2pt (Oliviero) 4: 45; Montreal, Doliscat 2pt (Dalombo) 9: 20; Blast, Marcano 2pt (Stitz) 11: 19, sh; Montreal, Mella 2pt (Stathopoulos) 12: 45. Penalties--Blast, Neely (boarding) 9: 44; Blast, Neely (5-minute misconduct) 11: 51.

Fourth period--Montreal, Biello 2pt (unassisted) 4: 58; Montreal, Mella 2pt (penalty kick) 5: 41; Montreal, Mella 2pt (Oliviero) 7: 38; Montreal, Roy 3pt (Stathopoulos) 9: 52; Blast, Cabral 1pt (Neely) 11: 22; Blast, Walker 2pt (Santoro) 12: 44. Penalties--Blast, Azmi (tripping) 5: 41; Montreal, Ceccarelli (tripping); Blast, Cabral (misconduct) 14: 47; Montreal, Doliscat (misconduct) 14: 47.

Saves--Blast, Azmi (10), Tenney (4), Ronson (0); Montreal, Ceccarelli (10), Salas (0). Att--4,325.

Blast tonight

Opponent: Edmonton Drillers

Site: Baltimore Arena

Time: 7: 35

Radio: WJFK (1300 AM)

Outlook: The Drillers (16-9), comfortable leaders in the North Division, are in the midst of a long road trip and they're holding their own, splitting four games. They figure to be better rested for tonight's game, as the Blast played last night in Montreal. Brad Smith and Troy Snyder have returned to the Blast lineup. The teams played in Edmonton on Dec. 20, the Drillers prevailing, 13-7.

Pub Date: 2/13/99

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