As he stood next to the right goal post late in the fourth quarter Sunday night, Mark Stitt had three chances to get it right.
Stitt eventually sent his own ricochet past St. Louis goaltender James Jensen to give the Bullfrogs breathing room in a 6-4 Roller Hockey International victory at the Arrowhead Pond.
B.J. MacPherson had a goal and two assists and Hugo Belanger had the winning goal and an assist to help the Bullfrogs improve their Western Conference record to 2-1-1 in front of an announced crowd of 4,126.
The Vipers of the Eastern Conference dropped to 2-2, despite two goals and an assist from Christian Skoryna.
Belanger put the Bullfrogs up, 5-4, with 5 minutes 18 seconds remaining in the game on a slap shot that followed a nice centering pass from Kevin St. Jacques. But it was Stitt's goal, which came with 3:30 left and was his second of the game, that put St. Louis away in a rougher-than-most roller hockey game. There were 43 minutes in penalties, including misconduct penalties against Bullfrog reserves Chad Seibel and Ryan Shymer as the game ended.
"I had two good chances at the puck and I didn't do it," Stitt said. "Hugo made a nice pass to me and the third time I was just hoping to get the thing to go in."
Stitt said the Bullfrogs made this one closer than it should have been.
"We had a chance to take control in the first quarter and we let up," Stitt said. "We didn't take it to them. We'd go hard for five minutes and then stop."
The Bullfrogs outshot the Vipers, 46-28, but found it difficult to beat Jensen, the former Bullfrog, who stopped 40 shots, some of them point-blank. Jensen won both of his starts last season while playing for the Bullfrogs in Major League Roller Hockey.
"That shot just deflected off of the post," Jensen said of Stitt's second goal.
The Bullfrogs broke a 2-2 halftime tie with goals by MacPherson and Bob Rapoza. But St. Louis returned the favor to tie the score, 4-4, with goals from C.J. Yoder and Skoryna.
"We were standing around too much tonight and we weren't using our speed," Bullfrog Coach Brad McCaughey said.
RHI President and CEO Bernie Mullin is expected to make it official as early as Tuesday that the league championship series will be held at the Pond Aug. 18-19 and 22. . . . The Las Vegas Coyotes raised their Western Conference-leading record to 4-0 with a 6-5 victory at San Jose (2-1) Sunday. Former Bullfrogs Coach Grant Sonier has been standing in for Coyote Coach Chris McSorley. McSorley, also a former Bullfrog coach, has been in Huntington Beach as commissioner of ESPN's made-for-television Pro Beach Hockey, which wrapped up shooting Sunday. In 1993 McSorley, with Sonier as his assistant, coached the Bullfrogs to a 13-0-1 record and the RHI's first championship. . . . Winger Kevin Kerr, captain of that 1993 championship team, is expected to join the Bullfrogs later this month, team President Bob Elder said. Kerr has been attending to personal business, according to Elder. . . . Defenseman Darren Perkins has been skating in practice, but the Bullfrogs have not set a firm date for his return from a broken orbital bone injured during ice hockey season. . . . The Bullfrogs host Dallas (0-4) at the Pond Wednesday at 7 p.m.