Hovaker improved to 2-0 on the season (Photo by Contrast Photography).
GK Nick Hovaker Shines; Semir Mesanovic Hits Game-Winner
Baltimore, Md. (Saturday, March 13, 2010) – In what was an instant overtime classic tonight at 1st Mariner Arena, the Philadelphia KiXX (7-9) snapped a six-game Baltimore Blast (11-8) winning streak in thrilling fashion, 8-6. Philadelphia goalkeeper Nick Hovaker was stellar in the extra frame with five athletic saves, and a Ricardinho to Semir Mesanovic restart goal provided the KiXX game-winner in this heart pounding match.
Both teams created opportunities in the first quarter, and a scoreless tie was not broken until Baltimore defender Mike Lookingland notched a restart goal at 9:49. Philadelphia almost put away a couple of hard shots at the end of the opening quarter, but the Blast was able to hold onto its 2-0 advantage the rest of the frame.
The second period of this match carried the same intensity as the first stanza, but no goals were scored by either side. When the whistle blew to conclude the opening half of play, the scoreboard still read 2-0 in favor of the home team.
At 5:54 of the third quarter, Baltimore forward Machel Millwood scored an unassisted tally to make the count 4-0 for his club. Other than that two-pointer, Hovaker and the Philadelphia defense kept the slate clean, and the game headed into its final 15 minutes of regulation.
The resilient KiXX turned up the tempo in the fourth frame, and Mesanovic put Philadelphia on the board at 4:45 on a restart opportunity. At 5:52, forward Adauto Neto scored a solo strike to equalize for the KiXX, 4-4, extending his point streak to 15 matches. The Blast then reacquired the lead on a Pat Healey goal at 6:28, but a Mesanovic to player/coach Don D’Ambra equalizer with 1:06 remaining sent this contest into overtime. The deuce for D’Ambra was his seventh straight game with a goal since returning to the Philadelphia lineup.
Baltimore came out firing in the extra stanza, and Hovaker was tested early and often. The Mount Olive College graduate was able to turn away five would-be goals to keep the KiXX in the match, and his teammates would show their appreciation for his efforts at 5:34. After receiving a restart feed from Ricardinho, Mesanovic powered a ball into the back of the net to give Philadelphia the dramatic 8-6 win.
With the victory, the KiXX season is still very much alive. Philadelphia would need to run the table on its last four games, coupled with a loss by La RaZa de Monterrey (9-9). If La RaZa happens to lose both of its final two matches, the KiXX would need to win three of its last four games.
Next up for Philadelphia is a return to the City of Brotherly Love on Sunday when the team hosts the Rockford Rampage (6-12) at The Liacouras Center at 4:05 p.m. The KiXX will play four more times in the next seven days to find out its postseason fate, and the 2009-10 regular season finale will take place on Sunday, March 21st. In addition to a 4:05 p.m. hosting of Baltimore that day, Philadelphia will retire the #22 jersey of legendary KiXX goalkeeper Peter Pappas. Tickets for both of the remaining home contests can be purchased today by calling 1-888-888-KiXX or by visiting www.ComcastTix.com.