Wings’ Overtime Goal Drops Sockers to Cellar
The end was wild and crazy and controversial.
The Sockers thought they saw two fouls on a goal by Dale Ervine that gave the Wichita Wings a 3-2 victory in overtime Friday night.
Socker Coach Ron Newman said defender Gus Mokalis thought he saw Wing midfielder Chico Borja commit a handball in the penalty box.
And Socker goalkeeper Victor Nogueira said Wing defender Terry Rowe backed in and fell on top of him while Ervine scored.
Ervine drilled home the third game-winning goal of his career less than 2 minutes into sudden-death.
And the Wings broke a 5-game losing streak against the perennial MISL champions.
It was the second consecutive game in which one team knocked the other into the cellar. The Wings climbed to 3-5; the Sockers dropped to 3-6.
The Sockers, on their first back-to-back road swing, play tonight at league-leading Baltimore.
“I would like for that goal to be a little cleaner,” said Newman. “They forced it in like a rugby scrimmage.”
The Socker defense played brilliantly, and Nogueira was outstanding in only his second performance in the past 9 months. Idled since March by an Achilles tendon injury, Nogueira made 19 saves, 14 in the second half.
“The first half our defense was so strong it covered up for me real well,” he said.
The Sockers killed four Wings power plays and actually scored a power play of their own, an upset. They have scored only twice in 20 man-advantage chances this season.
“There’s kind of a standing joke that maybe our defensive power play unit ought to go on offense,” said Kevin Crow, the all-star defender.
Not Friday night. It took the Sockers’ power-play unit only 11 seconds to burn the Wings when they committed their sixth foul of the third period.
And it was a beauty. Allan Willey back-heeled a pass from Cacho past goalkeeper Cris Vaccaro on a counterattack.
That came just 12 minutes after Zoran Karic got the Sockers even at 1-1. The Wings failed to close down Brian Quinn on a run, and he got off a dangerous shot that barely missed, but Karic scored on the rebound.
Willey’s goal sent a hush over the crowd of 7,754. And the Sockers were rejecting nearly every frantic effort the Wings had produced.
“I thought we had it,” Newman said. “I was proud of the way our lads played. We never got any real good breaks.
“Our record would have been good if we had gotten any breaks.”
Newman said he felt his team created plenty of chances but couldn’t put them away. And he said his defense played strong but did not get the ball out of the back was well as usual.
“We’re usually very good at that,” he said. “Tonight it was a weakness.”
Mike Stankovic got the Wings even with a penalty kick with 6:01 left. It was not a gift goal, because it came after another Ervine goal was nullified by a Socker handball in the penalty area.
After Ervine’s game-winner, the Wings were delirious.
“Chico is the best in the league at bringing the ball down the boards,” Ervine said. “And when he does, somebody had better get in the box. The ball popped out to me, and the goalkeeper had to cover the near post, and I tucked it in the far post.
“We deserve a game like that It will be a morale builder for us.”
The low scoring was not a result of lack of action. The Wings outshot the Sockers, 48-18. But Nogueira made 19 saves and the Sockers blocked a club record 26 shots and were leading, 2-1, midway through the fourth period.
The Sockers ran their league-leading penalty killing record to three goals in 23 chances. That’s 87% success.