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WIN OVER BLADES KEEPS EAGLES IN THE HUNT

To stay in the hunt for the playoffs, the Golden Eagles desperately needed a win Tuesday night against Kansas City. So the inconsistent Eagles suddenly played playoff-type hockey against the IHL's top club and scored a 4-2 victory against the Blades, the team they'll likely face should they make the playoffs.

The win vaulted the Eagles back in front of the Indianapolis Ice in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot. Salt Lake now has 70 points to 69 for the Ice, who have played two less games."We're still in a hole, only not as deep," said Eagle Coach Bob Francis. "This is just one. We've got five more. We need to get the rest."

The Eagles abandoned their rough-house style of play that had led to a bunch of penalties and an embarrassing 6-1 loss to the Blades Friday and came out and played solid hockey.

"We made a commitment with discipline in the penalty department and just played our style of hockey," said Francis. "When we get the puck deep, we're successful and we did that tonight."

Another big factor in the Eagles' win was Francis' decision to go with goalie Scott Sharples, who hasn't had as good a season as rookie Jason Muzzatti.

"I thought Sharples did a good job for them," said Kansas City coach Kevin Constantine. "I know Jason Muzzatti has been a better goalie for them, but to be honest, Sharples has done a better job against us this year."

Francis agreed. "Sharps was outstanding," he said. "He stepped into a key situation and did the job. He's a savior, no doubt about it."

Sharples kept the Blades from scoring in the first and third periods and allowed just two in the middle frame.

"We kept our composure tonight and didn't get frustrated," said Sharples, who stopped 28 shots. "We outworked them for most of the game and that's why we won."

The Eagles jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead after one period. Rich Chernomaz, who moved within one of the all-time Eagle record for career goals, scored on a rebound shot midway through the period.

Then late in the period on an Eagle power play, Alexander Godynyuk let fly with a shot from just inside the blue line that sneaked by Wade Flaherty.

In the second period, Tom Pederson scored for the Blades at the 9:00 mark while Ron Handy scored at the 15:11 mark. In between, Salt Lake picked up a goal by Tomas Forsland to stay ahead 3-2.

In the third period, the Blades had several chances, including a power-play opportunity at the 12:42 mark when Salt Lake's Kevan Melrose was whistled with a cross-checking penalty. But Sharples, who had won only eight of 28 games going into the contest, repelled every Blade chance to pick up the victory.

Salt Lake's final goal came on an empty-netter by Todd Harkins with 32 seconds left.

"This was a playoff situation for us tonight," said Eagle Coach Bob Francis. "We were in a desperate position, but we rose to the occasion."

The Blades and Eagles play once more this season, April 4 at the Delta Center. Before that, the Eagles play two games in San Diego Saturday and Monday before returning home to play Phoenix the following Thursday. They also play at Phoenix April 3.

The Eagles may be without the services of Chernomaz for the two games in San Diego. At the end of the game, during a brief melee, Chernomaz was whistled with a charging penalty and a game misconduct. Since it was his fourth game misconduct, he must sit out one or two games according to IHL regulations. The Eagles plan to appeal the suspension.