CLEVELAND - The Blast needed to play a complete game in its personal house of horrors - and did exactly that last night.
Goals by Sean Bowers, Henry Gutierrez and Lee Tschantret, coupled with a strong defensive effort, gave the Blast a 14-12 victory over the Cleveland Crunch.
"We talked about defense and playing with consistency before the game," Blast coach Kevin Healey said. "We came in here against a team that's been difficult for us this season [and] did the little things - the dirty work, the hustle - needed to win."
Tarik Walker and Denison Cabral each scored twice for the Blast (13-12), which began a stretch of four road games in its next five by winning for the first time in three tries this season at the CSU Convocation Center against the last-place Crunch (7-19).
Cleveland is 3-3 against the Blast and 4-16 against the rest of the MISL.
Tschantret put the Blast ahead to stay with an acrobatic goal on a header at 8:31 of the third quarter for an 11-10 lead. The score came nine seconds after Cleveland had gone ahead.
Off the kickoff, Dewan Bader looped a long ball into the attacking zone. Tschantret, who had slipped past two Crunch defenders, leaped into the air with his back to the goal and headed the ball past startled Cleveland goalkeeper Jim Larkin.
"What a beautiful ball from Dewan," Tschantret said. "I was able to slip in there and just tried to skin it in off the top of my head."
The goal was the third in a 33-second span by the two clubs.
Gutierrez began the onslaught with a volley from the right corner that Larkin never saw. Winning goalkeeper Scott Hileman launched a long ball to a totally unmarked Gutierrez, who received the pass with his back to the goal, whirled and kicked it in one motion for a 9-8 lead.
"It was a perfect pass, but the only thing I could do with it was just try a shot," Gutierrez said. "I figured I would just hit it and see what happens. That's about a 1-in-20 chance. My number came up."
Giuliano Celenza had opened the second half with a power-play goal at 2:28 to give the Blast a 7-6 lead.
The Crunch went to a sixth attacker with 3:10 to play and scored 37 seconds later when Goran Vasic redirected a restart pass from Marinaro to pull within 14-12.
"I've got a great feeling about this team," Tschantret said. "What you saw tonight is the way this team can play. We've had some unusual losses and an awful lot of injuries. We get everybody healthy and play like this, I think the rest of this season is going to be a lot of fun."
Blast 4 1 6 3 - 14
Cleveland 4 2 4 2 - 12
First quarter-1, Cle, Edgerton (Oliviero) 2pt., 5:03; 2, Bal, Walker(Celenza) 2 pt., 9:05; 3, Cle, Oliviero (Couch) 2 pt., 10:25; 4, Bal, Bowers(Walker) 2 pt, 13:29. Penalties-None.
Second quarter-5, Cle, Sedgewick (Marinaro) 2 pt., :34; 6, Bal, Cabral(shootout), 1 pt., 8:51. Penalties-Cle bench (delay of game) 8:51.
Third quarter-7, Bal, Celenza (Wright) 2pt. PPG, 2:28; 8, Cle, Butcher(unassisted) 2 pt., 3:38; 9, Bal, Gutierrez (Hileman) 2 pt., 8:04; 10, Cle,Edgerton (Marinaro) 2 pt., 8:22; 11, Bal, Tschantret (Bader) 2pt, 8:31. Penalty-Ball, Cle (tripping) 1:15.
Fourth quarter-12, Bal, Walker (Wright) 2 pt., :19; 13, Bal, Cabral(shootout) 1 pt., 11:01; 14, Cle, Vasic (Marinaro) 2 pt. RSG, sixth attacker,12:23. Penalty-Cle bench (too many men).
Shots on goal: Blast 8-16-11-9--44, Cleveland 15-8-13-8--44. Power-play opportunities: Blast 1-1, Cleveland 0-0. Goalkeepers: Blast, Hileman 26 shots, 20 saves; Cleveland, Larkin 27 shots, 19 saves, Ball 0 shots, 0 saves. A: 3,378.