Share this article

print logo

VARIOUS GOALS IN SIGHT IN BLIZZARD SEASON FINALE WIN TOPS LAST YEAR'S TOTAL; SCORING MARK NEAR

Today's Buffalo Blizzard-Harrisburg Heat game at Memorial Auditorium has no bearing on Buffalo's finish in the National Professional Soccer League standings.

But the final game of the regular season is still laden with some statistically significant possibilities for the team and players.

Buffalo (19-20) needs a win to reach the .500 mark and show improvement over last year's 19-21 finish. The 23-17 record of the team's first season in 1992-93 remains the Blizzard benchmark.

The Blizzard front office needs at least 5,740 people to attend the "Fan Appreciation Day" game (2 p.m., Radio 1400) to give the franchise the second-best average attendance (7,069) in its three-year history. Attendance at the first 19 games totaled 135,640, an average of 7,138. The club-record average of 8,434 was set last season.

The Blizzard needs to score eight more points to top the 570 points scored in its first season and become the most productive team in franchise history.

Paul Dougherty, who has scored 81 goals this year, needs three more goals to double the 42 goals he scored last season. He already has 15 hat tricks in 39 games this year.

Dougherty's seven-point night (3 goals, 1 assist) in Cleveland Friday gave him a club-record 171 points for the season, surpassing the 165 points scored by Rudy Pikuzinski in the 1992-93 season.

Dougherty also is the Blizzard's most prolific shooter (747 shots in three seasons) and goal scorer (171 career goals).

Rudy Pikuzinski needs to net a two-point goal on his first shot to become the only Blizzard player to score at a point-per-shot clip. In his 28 games this year, the team captain has scored 103 points (2 three-point goals, 35 two-pointers, 5 one-pointers and 22 assists) in 104 shots. He sat out Friday's game to rest his injured knee for the playoffs, which start at the Aud against the Cleveland Crunch on Friday.

Randy Pikuzinski, who already has 47 assists in 39 games, can extend his team record for most assists in a season. In three seasons, the midfielder has missed only one game.

Jim May, who took over as coach after the team got off to a 1-2 start, needs a win to put his NPSL career record at 19-18 and join Trevor Dawkins (42-38) in the Blizzard's plus-.500 coaches' club.

May, who said he "was not unhappy" with the Blizzard's effort in Friday's 22-14 loss at Cleveland, said goalkeeper Jeff Robben will probably be in net today.

Robben is 3-2 in nine appearances since replacing Tony Meola last month. May said Meola, who left to become an actor, will not rejoin the Blizzard for the playoffs.

May said Blizzard forward Gerard Gregoire suffered a dislocated shoulder in Cleveland and forward Jean Harbor is down with the flu. He said they and Rudy Pikuzinski, are "day to day" and might miss today's game.

Harrisburg (23-16) leads the season series, two games to one. Each team has won its home games.

Over three seasons, Buffalo holds a 9-5 edge (6-1 at the Aud) over Harrisburg. Buffalo has won the last five games at home.

The Heat has not played in the Aud since Nov. 19, when Buffalo scored 13 points in the fourth quarter to score a 21-18 victory. Buffalo forward Gino DiFlorio, who was lost to a season-ending injury a month later, tied a club record with five goals in that game.

Harrisburg, which will face the Baltimore Spirit in the playoffs, has an attack led by three 100-point scorers -- Danny Kelly, Mark Pulisic and David Bascome.

Two all-stars -- defender Richard Chinapoo and goalkeeper Scoop Stanisic -- head a defense that is fifth best in the league.

There are no comments - be the first to comment