Blast drops 1st game to Kixx this season; Two-game winning streak is halted in 22-17 loss


PHILADELPHIA -- Empty every elementary schoolyard in this city during recess, gather up the kids under the roof of the Spectrum and you have a pretty good idea what the Blast-Kixx game was like yesterday. Loud.

On those rare occasions when the play on the field wasn't explosive and frenzied during Philly's 22-17 victory, it certainly was in the stands as the 14,128 onlookers squealed with delight throughout. It served the home team well as it won its first game against the Blast in four tries.

The victory was Philly's fourth in a row, solidifying its lead in the East. The Blast's two-game winning streak was halted but it remains in second place in the East.

Three times a relatively easy winner in games at the Baltimore Arena when it matched up well with the Kixx, the Blast fell short on this occasion due mainly to the the fact this is a totally different Philly team.

Little went right for the visitors in the opening moments and they have only themselves to blame for the 6-0 hole they dug in the first 3: 18 of play.

The first two times they had the ball, a Blast player kicked it up into the stands, setting up a restart kick by the Kixx. The Blast is, well, horrible defensing restarts. Result: a two-pointer by Don D'Ambra and a three-pointer by Matt Knowles.

Thereafter, it was all uphill and, as coach Kevin Healey pointed out: "We can be proud of the way we constantly fought back. We never gave in."

Twice the Blast fought its way back in, once at 12-9 and, with eight minutes remaining, 20-15. "But the restarts, they're killing us," said Healey. "I don't think anyone works on restarts more than this team does but, at this point, the solution seems simple: Stop making the fouls that lead to shootouts and we've got to keep the ball in the field of play. Definitely, the first two goals should not have gone in."

Khalil Azmi was in net for the Blast at the start and he allowed a couple of soft goals before settling down. David Tenney worked between the pipes in the second half and once again held his own.

Denison Cabral and Mark Thomas, scoring three goals apiece, Jason Dieter with a pair and Tarik Walker with a goal and two assists were the big guns in the numerous comebacks by the Blast, which trailed by as many as eight points on two occasions.

"We have to forget this one," said the coach. "We have a big weekend ahead [two games] and we've got to win both of them."

Blast tonight

Opponent: Wichita Wings

Site: Baltimore Arena

Time: 7: 35 TV/Radio: HTS/WJFK (1300 AM)

Outlook: The Wings (15-14) have drawn even with the Midwest Division-leading St. Louis Ambush after trailing by four games just prior to the new year. The team is led by superstar Erik Rasmussen who, despite missing some games at the beginning of the season, has vaulted into the league scoring lead with 134 points. Wichita is on a three-game weekend, visiting Harrisburg tomorrow and Philadelphia on Sunday after winning in St. Louis in double overtime Tuesday, 21-19. Franklin McIntosh, who missed the game yesterday, returns to the Blast lineup. Pub Date: 2/26/99

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