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Bullfrogs Sweep the Blades

Roller hockey: With 8-4 victory, Anaheim reaches the Western Conference finals of Roller Hockey International against either Oakland or Vancouver.


INGLEWOOD — Double sighs of relief could be heard inside the locker room at the Forum Tuesday night shortly after the Bullfrogs had defeated the Blades, 8-4, to sweep this Pacific Division playoff series.

Word from the hospital was that defenseman Darren Perkins, taken down by a vicious slash from behind from Blade captain Steve Wilson in the third quarter, had not suffered a broken leg as first thought.

By downing the Blades in this Roller Hockey International game Tuesday in front of an announced crowd of 3,612, the Bullfrogs moved a step closer to their second Murphy Cup by winning the best-of-three-game series, 2-0.

The Bullfrogs are looking forward to the Western Conference finals, where they will open at either Oakland or Vancouver. That series is tied, 1-1.

"The media, our fans, the owners, even ourselves, have made this the rivalry [with the Blades] that it is," said Coach Grant Sonier. "There's no question we wanted this one off our backs."

The Bullfrogs, who opened the series Monday with a 7-5 victory, jumped out to an early three-goal lead, but couldn't shake the Blades. The Bullfrogs were were ahead, 4-3, and appeared to be losing momentum when Wilson changed the tone of the game with 5 minutes 48 seconds left in the third quarter.

In the battle for a loose puck, Wilson approached Perkins from behind and broke his stick over Perkins' shin. Wilson was tossed for slashing and Perkins left the rink on a stretcher. The Bullfrogs were awarded a penalty shot.

Blade goaltender Sean Gauthier stopped Todd Wetzel's shot but Perkins' replacement, defenseman Joe Cook, took advantage of the four-minute power play. He scored two goals, giving the Bullfrogs a 6-3 lead. He got his third goal, with about five minutes remaining in the game.

Perkins was taken to Centinela Hospital Medical Center, where X-rays revealed just a bad bruise.

Cook, coming off a four-goal performance a week ago in the United States' 13-4 victory over Canada in the gold medal game of the World Inline Hockey Championships, knew what he had to do when he replaced Perkins.

"We got a chance there and we wanted to capitalize," he said. "We had to make it happen right then."

Wilson said he was surprised when his stick broke.

"We were both going after the puck and he was a little ahead of me," Wilson said. "I didn't think I hit him that hard. But when you break your stick it looks bad. I feel bad for Darren. I never intentionally want to hurt anyone."

Not many of the Bullfrogs would buy that line, though.

"No question about it. It was a flagrant slash," said Savo Mitrovic, who finished with a single assist.

The Bullfrogs were ahead, 4-1, with 5:41 seconds left in the second quarter on goals by Victor Gervais, Rick Judson and Tom Minicci.

Wilson fed Bobby McKillop for a power-play goal with 2:36 seconds remaining in the half and the Blades' Peter Kasowski cut the Bullfrogs' lead to 4-3 with his 11th goal of the season early in the third quarter.

"It's worrisome when you lose a player like Darren," said B.J. MacPherson. "He and Gervais are our bread and butter players. so when a guy does that to one of your players, you've got to make the other team pay. We took it too them. If we hadn't it would have been huge for them."

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