Cougars Weekly Report
The third year Cougars travel to Detroit to take on the second year Ignition Friday night at 4:35PM ET. It is the first of two games on back-to-back days for California. The Cougars had their four game win streak snapped in a crushing 24-15 defeat by the New Jersey Ironmen. Detroit has won two straight including dominating performances against the Storm in Chicago (W, 25-7) on 12/22 and a win in Milwaukee (10-4) earlier this week. The Ignition currently sit tied atop the MISL with Chicago and New Jersey at 8-3. The Cougars are 1.5 games back with a 6-4 season mark. The Ignition beat the Cougars on 11/17/07. They won that contest 16-13; it was the first ever win for Detroit at Stockton Arena. Mike Apple, Ryan Mack and Jamar Beasley finished with two goals each in that victory. Both of Apple's goals came during Power Plays. The Ignition leads the league in power play scoring and killing. They have converted 63.1 percent of their power play opportunities and have killed 69.2 percent of opponent's chances. The Ignition offense leads the league with 32.8 shots forced per game. The Ignition is a .500 team at home (2-2) but are a league best 6-1 on the road. The Cougars are also just .500 at home, but are have a franchise record three roads wins this season, 3-1 through 10 games played.
Chris Handsor: 574 Career Points through 1/2/08
Chris Handsor: 168 Career assists through 1/2/08
Sanaldo: 885 Career Saves through 1/2/08
Antonio Sutton: 145 Career Points through 1/2/08
Enrique Tovar: 112 Career Points through 1/2/08
Enrique Tovar: 50 Career Goals through 1/2/08
Ironmen stop Cougars win streak at four games, earn 24-15 win in California
Stockton, CA - Dec. 30, 2007 - Twelve unanswered second half points prove to be the difference as the New Jersey Ironmen (8-3) defeat the California Cougars (6-4) 24-15 in front of an announced 4,785 at Stockton Arena. Midfielder Brian Farber led the Cougars with three first half goals, but the Ironmen, led by Mauricio Salles' hat-trick, out play the Cougars and end California's four game win streak.
The chaotic back-and-forth first half started on an Enrique "Qeeks" Tovar score against a power play shortened New Jersey defense. Ironmen goalkeeper and former Cougar, Bayard Elfvin was called for an intentional handball that briefly forced him out of the game. Elfvin left 2:24 into the quarter and returned at the 2:56 mark when Naldo assisted Qeeks on the power play score to start the contest.
New Jersey answered back moments later on a power play score of their own. Dan Antoniuk picked up his 35th point of the season with a two point goal assisted by MISL veteran Goran Vasic at the 6:21 mark.
But, at the end of the first quarter California had erupted out to a 6-2 lead. Led by Farber's back-to-back scores, the Cougars looked to be in control. Farber's first score came on an unassisted put-in 8:44 into the first. Then in the second, Farber was able to connect on a Mesanovic pass at 12:55 into quarter one.
The second quarter was a different story. The Ironmen connected on three unanswered scores to begin the second quarter, giving them 8-6 lead with almost nine minutes left in the half. Again, it was Farber who answered back for the Cougars. His third and final goal came at the 6:48 point in the second quarter and it tied the match at eight apiece.
Eduardo Velez then put the Cougars on top again in the first half as he took a Tovar pass of the glass and kicked it home for the score. A pinpoint pass from Tovar found the near corner glass and caromed into the goal box for Velez to punch it through. The Cougars led by two heading into the final minutes of the first half until New Jersey's Gordon Kljestan scored to tie the game at 10. That goal was assisted by Vasic, his second in the game, and it came just minutes before the halftime.
The Kljestan score was just the beginning on an onslaught of offensive output by the Ironmen. The expansion club was tied with California heading into the third quarter, but used six unanswered second half scores to take a commanding 22-12 lead. The scoring by New Jersey was eventually answered by a Mesanovic goal in the fourth. Mesanovic scored twice in the fourth, including his third three point goal on the season, but it was too little too late. The Ironmen used a dominating second half to defeat California 24-15.
Nine different Ironmen players scored in the game. Mauricio Salles finished with three goals and an assist for a team high seven points. He was also credited with the game winning score. Stefan Stokich was the only other Ironmen player to have recorded multiple goals in the win. Shaun David was the only Ironmen starter to not score in the contest.
The Cougars looked to have dominated the first half, but could not keep pace with the potent New Jersey offense. The Ironmen out shot the Cougars 35-23 in the win, including a 20 shot outburst in the first half. The Cougars had started the game allowing a league best 21.9 shots per game played. On the offensive side, the Cougars came in average 26.6 shots per game.
"They seemed to have wanted it more than we did," said Cougars assistant coach Antonio Sutton. "Their second half runs were stronger than in the beginning of the game. Our runs seemed to get slower at the same time. In the indoor game you have to continue those runs, when you don't do that you usually end up on the short end of the stick."
Coming off his best game as a Cougar, Sanaldo was roughed up for 11 goals on 27 shots faced. His defense provided six blocks in the game, including three by Ryan Hall. All three of Hall's blocks happened in the first half. New Jersey outscored the Cougars 14-5 in the second half en route to the victory. The Ironmen's final tally of 24 points is the highest total allowed by the Cougars' defense this season.
"They played well defensively and were able to get five guys behind the ball," said Mesanovic. "They played solid the whole game, and I guess we came out flat in the third and they came out flying. That's what happens sometimes in this game. We had our chances and couldn't finish. When we didn't do our part that is when they took advantage and gained the momentum in the game."
California finishes the month of December with a 3-1 record, with two home wins over the Blast and Monterrey. They also recorded a road win to start the month in Baltimore. California takes to the road next as they travel to Detroit on Friday, January 4. The Cougars are then back at home the next night against Chicago in Stockton at 7:15PM.
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