Banner Recreation of Salt Lake City nearly made a sale Thursday night.
Banner supplied the outerwear for the Flint Spirits for their Salt Palace game with the Eagles because Spirit uniforms were never put onto their plane out of Michigan in the morning.The last-place Spirits had one of their best games wearing wrong-colored old bantam team uniforms made to fit 15-year-olds. "I thought we played pretty well," said Flint Coach Don Waddell. "Actually, I thought the change in uniforms would help. I thought we were going to get a point out of this."
The Spirits, 0-6 and 1-10 recently, had leads of 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 and were still tied 3-3 with 1:40 left.
But the Eagles still had two goals in them - a tip-in of a Rich Chernomaz rush by Paul Ranheim at 18:23 was the winner, and Peter Lappin added a short-handed empty-netter with :25 left - to take a 5-3 win.
So much for buying the uniforms.
It was the Eagles' seventh straight victory, their longest streak since the club won eight in October 1985.
It took what Eagle Coach Paul Baxter called "tremendous fear of losing" to get the Eagles playing well in the third period. The first period, the Eagles skated well; the second, they hit well. They finally put their two biggest assets together in the third.
The fear of losing was well-founded - the Spirits won all three previous games with the Eagles this season.
"We've played our best games against Salt Lake," Waddell says..
For Baxter, "The positive thing is we found a way to win. I'm not sure what that way is, but we found it." The Eagles aren't known for third-period game-winning rallies, and Flint was 9-1-1 when going into the third period with a lead, as it did Thursday.
But nothing was normal Thursday.
"It was a funny day," said Waddell, who thought it strange when airport workers began rearranging baggage so the 36-seat commuter plane could take off. That's how the uniforms got left home.
The game was spooky:
(BU) Eagle Shane Churla, who rarely scores, was involved in two odd goals, scoring one when he checked Steve Harrison into the boards and the puck bounced off them into the Flint goalie and into the net. "Give me 50 of those, and I'll score ya 30," Churla joked. "They're always fun to get - well, for me, any goal is fun to get."
(BU) Churla had a rare one-man "fight" with Alex Daviault. Churla got penalties for high sticking, instigating and fighting; Daviault got a roughing minor. "I think he honestly thought the other guy wanted to go (fight)," said Baxter.
Flint got a seven-minute power play but didn't score until the very end. "That was terrible," said Waddell. "We looked very disorganized."
(BU) Flint goalie Gary Kruzich was attacked by his own goal. A Flint player lost his balance and grabbed the goal, pulling it over onto Kruzich, who landed on his face with the goal on top of him. He had to change helmets.
Churla's second strange contribution to a goal came at 14:28 of the third period, and it helped the Eagles fight back to a 3-3 tie. Kruzich went behind his net to play the puck, and Churla knocked him down. The puck went out to Marc Bureau at the right point, and he shot into an empty net.
"It's a judgment call," said Waddell, who wanted a penalty. If the goalie's playing the puck, it's a legal hit; Waddell said Kruzich had passed it.
"A conflict of space," Baxter called it, saying Churla, too, was going for the puck.
"I was going on a straight line, and if he's getting in my way, that's his own fault," said Churla.
Ranheim had two goals and now totals 40 for the season. Lappin had a goal and two assists. Ex-Eagle Harrison had a goal and an assist before receiving a 10-minute misconduct for arguing about the Churla/Kruzich incident.