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Reserves Help Power Bullfrogs to Victory

Roller hockey: New faces come through on offense as Anaheim beats Oakland, 8-7.


ANAHEIM — Those promising Bullfrog rookies who have waited in the wings for the first one-third of the Roller Hockey International season finally showed what they could do Sunday night at the Pond.

With the team's leading scorer in Canada to attend a wedding and a key second-year player still recovering from an eye infection, the Bullfrogs got hat tricks from first-year defensemen Mark Desantis and Tom Menicci, and held on to defeat the Oakland Skates, 8-7, in front of an announced crowd of 9,959.

Forward Mark Stitt, another rookie, had four assists for the Bullfrogs (8-2-1), who retained their lead over Oklahoma in the Pacific Division.

It was the seventh time in 11 games a Bullfrog game has come down to one goal.

It's widely believed that some Bullfrog veterans may be playing their last season together, so Coach Grant Sonier brought in what he thought was a good group of newcomers to learn the system.

But until Sunday, rookies such as Glenn Stewart, Sean O'Brien, Jim Ficenec and the injured Scott Bell, had little to show. Desantis and Menicci, for example, had a total of five assists between them and neither had a goal.

Stitt had only one goal and three assists coming in and O'Brien, who had an assist and made a key defensive play, had only four points.

"They're still maturing," Sonier said of the newcomers. "We knew that in time these guys would be important to us. They've improved dramatically since the first game of the season. When they got here, they could barely skate."

The new crew came through at an ideal time.

The Bullfrogs were without team captain Victor Gervais, who was in Edmonton, and Todd Wetzel, recovering from pink eye that sidelined him Thursday in an 8-7 loss to San Diego. Wetzel started, but was ineffective, and had only one assist.

The Bullfrogs jumped to a 3-0 lead in the first quarter and needed solid defense in the final quarter to win. Kim Maier, Oakland's leading scorer, had two goals in the game and could have sent the game to a shootout, but his shot sailed just beyond the post with a second left.

The Bullfrogs led, 7-4, after three quarters, but it took some solid play from all-star goaltender Rob Laurie, who stopped 31 shots, to raise his record to 4-1-1.

"I just kept thinking, no way am I going to let this go to shootout," Laurie said.

The Bullfrogs won in Oakland a couple of weeks ago, when Laurie blanked the Skates in a shootout.

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