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San Jose Continues Mastery of Bullfrogs

Roller hockey: Rhinos rally, then defeat Anaheim in a shootout.

June 21, 1996|PAUL McLEOD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ANAHEIM — San Jose bedeviled the Bullfrogs once again Thursday night at the Pond.

This time it was rookie goaltender Joe Bonvie stopping a shot by Darren Perkins to end a shootout and record a 5-4 Roller Hockey International victory for the Rhinos over Anaheim before an announced crowd of 9,781.

It was the second consecutive victory by the Rhinos (6-2) over the Bullfrogs (5-1-1) dating to the Western Conference finals less than a year ago. San Jose, the defending Murphy Cup champion, is one of the few teams that Anaheim has not dominated in its four-plus-year history. The Rhinos have won four of the last five meetings and all but one have been as tight as this one.

Thursday it was just a case of the Rhinos never quitting. They trailed, 4-1, with 5 minutes 25 seconds left in the second quarter, but battled back to tie the score on a goal credited to forward Greg Hadden that replays showed was scored by Clayton Young, with 3:28 left.

Then in the shootout, the Rhinos fell behind, 1-0, after two attempts each and fought back to take a one-shot lead. After Savo Mitrovic tied the score, 2-2, Rhino forward Mark Woolf got the winner, lifting the puck over diving Bullfrog goalie Rob Laurie.

"I thought I had that shot," Laurie said of Woolf's winner. "I had him right where I wanted him. I didn't think he had any chance of making that shot."

But Woolf had other ideas, feinting right, forcing Laurie to sprawl across the crease, then sending the puck into the right corner of the net. Woolf, one of the best skaters in the league, moved into a tie with Long Island's Hugo Belanger for the league's scoring lead with 31 points with a goal and two assists Thursday.

It was another night of offensive frustration for the Bullfrogs, who wasted a first-half hat trick by forward Todd Wetzel. Anaheim failed to score in the final 29 minutes 25 seconds in regulation play, the fourth time this season the team has had a long offensive drought late in a game.

"We're a tired team," Mitrovic said. "There's too many games in RHI. The boys have just come off of 100 games in ice hockey. There are just too many games."

Indeed, the Bullfrogs' track record this year appears to point that way. Yet, the teams put on excellent displays is the first half, with crisp checking, excellent passing and intelligent attacks. Wetzel's three goals, for example, were the result of power plays.

"I thought we took some bad penalties in the first half," San Jose Coach Roy Sommer said. "These were two good teams. The only thing that saved us was our special teams."

San Jose is making a habit out of games like this. The Rhinos are 4-0 in shootouts this season with Bonvie in the net.

"These are two of the better teams in the league, so you expect a game like this," Bullfrog Coach Grant Sonier said.

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