By Brian Willwerth
BOSTON, MA – The Boston Blazers are heading back to the playoffs, thank in large part to the Dan Dawson show.
Dawson had five goals, and the Blazers hung on in the second half for a 9-7 victory over the Philadelphia Wings, before a crowd of 9,654 at TD Garden.
It didn’t take the Blazers long to get rolling. Casey Powell scored just 18 seconds into the contest against Brandon Miller to give Boston a 1-0 lead. The Wings responded about 2 and a half minutes later, as Brandon Mundorf beat Anthony Cosmo to tie the game at one. But Boston came storming back with 2 goals just :19 apart. Nick Cotter scored on the power play, followed by a quick tally by Dan Dawson.
After Matt Danowski pulled the Wings to within a goal, Dawson capped the first period scoring with a goal in the final minute. Boston led 4-2 after one quarter.
“We liked the whole week leading up to (the game),” said Blazers’ head coach Matt Sawyer. “It’s been a tough time for the last six weeks with this group, and it hasn’t been overly fun. But everything was positive this week and we had real good feelings.”
The Blazers kept the pressure on in the second quarter with a pair of power-play goals. Kevin Buchanan and Powell did the honors to give the Blazers a 6-2 lead. Cosmo kept the Wings off the scoreboard in the second 15 minutes of play.
Penalties were a big part of the first half. The Wings were sent to the box 8 times. The Blazers were whistled four times.
The Blazers started off the second half much like they did the first, and once again it was Dawson, with a tremendous wrap-around goal to beat Miller.
But then the Wings’ offense came to life with two goals in the final three minutes of the quarter, including one by Drew Westervelt with 0.8 left. Boston held a 7-5 advantage after three quarters.
Things got even tighter in the fourth, as Westervelt tallied his third goal of the game, followed by Ryan Boyle’s second of the night. That made it 8-7. But with just over three minutes to play, Dawson took an outlet pass from Cosmo, broke in alone and beat Miller for his fifth goal of the night to make it 9-7.
“I really haven’t shot the ball well this season,” said Dawson. “It’s just a testament to how good my teammates are at getting me open…..to have an outlet pass like that is a layup, so I got lucky and snuck a few by Brandon.”
The Blazers have one more regular season game left against Buffalo. For now, they’re savoring the clinching of a playoff spot.
“The locker room as jumping up and down, dancing and chatting, it was a great atmosphere,” said Blazers’ forward Casey Powell. “Now we’re concentrating on trying to win a championship.”