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Tacoma Hands Sockers Their Worst Loss Ever : MSL: Stars pepper backup goalie Biller for 10-1 victory. Sockers rest Nogueira, Segota for tonight’s showdown at home against St. Louis.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The Sockers might want to ponder one thought before heading into the postseason:

What happens in the playoffs if starting goalie Victor Nogueira is lost to injury?

Some fear the hypothetical result could be similar to what happened Saturday night in front of 5,120 in the Tacoma Dome. The Stars pummeled the Sockers and Nogueira’s backup, Savva Biller, 10-1.

Biller got the start when Sockers Coach Ron Newman chose to rest Nogueira for tonight’s showdown with St. Louis (6:05 at the Sports Arena).

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Also rested was forward Branko Segota, who is still hobbled by a sore right ankle he injured March 23 in a game with Dallas.

What stung was that the loss came at the hands of the same team the Sockers throttled 11-2 Thursday in San Diego.

Such is life in the MSL.

It was the worst loss in San Diego annals--three times the Sockers had been beaten by seven goals.

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Indeed, Newman and Stars Coach Keith Weller thought this game was a replay of Thursday night’s--only from the reverse angle. In the first debacle, Tacoma started rookie goalie Todd Strobeck.

“We had a rookie goalkeeper in, they had a rookie goalkeeper in,” Newman said. “The only difference, as I told the lads, was that in the game at our place, we were skin tight in the first period and it had to do with the way we played.

“In this one, Tacoma played well after they got some goals. Then they started to play with some real touches. I’m sure we gave them a lot of confidence to play.”

In defense of Biller, Newman said the porous defense was not all his doing.

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“All in all, he didn’t do that badly. There were so many shots on goal. And he didn’t get much help at the back.”

“It was a reversal of our game down there,” Weller said. “Not just because of the score. But we played a rookie keeper there, and we left a couple of players out. They played a rookie here and left some players out.

“That’s what happens sometimes. I have to give credit to our lads. They hustled well, they broke well, and they finished well. I’m not so sure that if they had had Victor, it would have made much difference.”

Newman said he doesn’t pay much attention to records--"we don’t bother with things like that,” he said--but the information delighted Weller.

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“I know Ron doesn’t like to lose,” said Weller, who was Newman’s assistant for several years. “But it shows a lot for our lads to take a shellacking down there and bounce back and do the same to them.”

Can the Sockers, after an early-morning flight home, bounce back for St. Louis?

“I think so,” Newman said. “We bounce back well, and I don’t think we wasted too much energy out there tonight.”

Newman did rest midfielder Brian Quinn and a few of his other key players after Tacoma put the game away in the third period.

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But Newman took a shot at the schedule-makers. Today’s game will be the Sockers third in four days.

“We have had some incredible games going,” Newman said. “Every weekend this month, we’ve had back-to-back games. It’s incredible.”

Tacoma put it away with four quick goals in the the third quarter to make it 8-1. To of the four came on power plays after silly penalties.

Walter Schmetzer scored the first one, at 2:47, cranking in a loose ball from just to the left of the area and inside the right post.

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After the Sockers’ Paul Dougherty was nailed for tripping, Tacoma’s Billy Crook scored the power-play goal. From a deep angle on the right wing, Crook ripped one in off the left post at 4:21.

Less than a minute later, San Diego’s Paul Wright was penalized for tripping. On this power play, Ralph Black found Kia on the left boards, and his tough-angle shot was placed inside the right post.

At 9:30, Crook added an insurance goal, firing on the run on a three on two counter-attack to make it 8-1.


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