Blast Clinch Eastern Division
By Andrew Primrose
The Baltimore Blast beat the Norfolk Sharx, 26-4, Feb. 1, and clinched the MISL's Eastern Division title. Just 54 seconds into the first quarter, Miguel Ferrer scored a goal to put the visiting Norfolk SharX up 2-0 during a rare Wednesday night MISL contest at the 1st Mariner Arena, but it took exactly 11 seconds for the Baltimore Blast and Shaun David to answer.
Despite some early season struggles with maintaining focus against the last-place SharX, including a loss in Norfolk, the Blast wasted no time in putting this game out of reach. Following David's equalizing strike, the Blast added three more first-quarter tallies by Mike Lookingland, Carlos Garcia and Nicki Patterson to build an 8-2 lead.
The second quarter was more of the same for the Blast, as veteran Carlos Garcia earned four points and the hat trick while Machel Millwood and J.T. Noone added two points apiece to the Baltimore total and left the Blast with a 16-2 halftime cushion.
Not content with their 14-point lead, the Blast would keep their foot on the proverbial gas pedal and run off five more unanswered goals during the second half. Millwood completed a hat trick of his own, while Garcia added a fourth goal, Noone a second and Ferdinand earned his first of the game.
The SharX were able to draw a small measure of revenge at the 12-minute mark of the fourth quarter, when Marcus Schmidt's unassisted goal broke the Blast 26-point run, but that was all the offense Norfolk was able to muster against backup goaltender Akira Fitzgerald, who made eight saves on just 10 shots from the SharX.
Despite clinching the Eastern Division with Wednesday's win, the Blast face the most important part of their schedule during the coming weeks as they fight with Central Division leader Milwaukee for best record in the MISL. The MISL playoffs will begin with the semifinals March 9-11, featuring the top two teams from each division meeting in a home-and-home series, with a mini game to decide the series following the second game, if needed. The championship will follow the same format March 16-18. The best record would come into play as that team would earn the right to choose which game they wanted to play at home in the Championship Round.
The Blast's next test in their quest for the best record comes Feb. 4, when Baltimore travels back to Milwaukee for a showdown with the Wave. The two teams have only met once so far this season, a 9-4 Blast win in Milwaukee Dec. 31. The game is available for webcast at BaltimoreBlast.com.
Posted Feb. 4, 2012