The Kansas City Comets ended the 2016 portion of its schedule in fine fashion and soothed some wounds to boot.
Leo Gibson scored two goals and added two assists to spark the Comets to a much-needed 8-5 victory over the St. Louis Ambush Saturday afternoon at the Family Arena in St. Charles, Mo.
Seven different Comets players scored in the game, as they wiped away some of the memories of a tough 8-7 home loss to the visiting Florida Tropics Friday night at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.
“It was a great way to end 2016,” said Comets goalkeeper Stephen Paterson, who had 12 saves. “There was a different feeling before the game after that loss to Florida Friday night. It was a quiet, tense locker room before the game. You could tell that everyone was focused on the game. St. Louis doesn’t have a great record, but they want to beat us – when we play them, we have a big target on our backs.
“We came out and scored the first five goals, taking that 5-0 lead, and that was big. Now, we can enjoy this one and get ready for the rest of the season.”
Ignacio “Nacho” Flores started the game by beating his defender and taking a shot that ricocheted off the crossbar and into the back of the net at the 2:51 mark of the first quarter.
Gibson, Vahid Assadpour, Ramone Palmer and Brian Harris all followed with goals to give the Comets the 5-0 lead midway through the second quarter.
“It was a meaningful win, a must win,” said Harris, who was playing in front of many of his family members from the St. Louis area. “None of us could accept that loss Friday and we needed to come and prove something to ourselves in St. Louis – and I think we did.”
Richard Schmermund and Mitchell Garcia each scored a goal for St. Louis before halftime to cut the Comets’ lead to 5-2 entering the break.
The Comets got off to a hot start after halftime as Gibson scored his second goal 11 seconds into the period on an assist from Harris to make it 6-2.
After Greg Kranz scored for St. Louis at the 2:51 mark, the rest of the quarter belonged to the Ambush as five different Comets players found themselves in the penalty box.
Odaine Sinclair was the first to see a blue card. His foul resulted in a penalty kick for St. Louis, which was converted by Schmermund to make it 6-4. Despite finding themselves shorthanded through much of the quarter, the Comets managed to maintain their lead.
With a little over nine minutes remaining, St. Louis’ Vadim Cojocov fouled Leo Gibson, drawing a two-minute penalty. The Comets seized the opportunity to put the game away when Lucas Rodriguez scored a power-play goal – the team’s seventh of the season – at the 6:40 mark of the fourth for a 7-4 advantage. Gibson turned and lobbed a pass on the right side of the goal to Rodriguez, who didn’t even let the ball bounce before volleying his shot past Ambush goalkeeper Casey Clark.
St. Louis brought on a sixth attacker after that in a last-ditch effort to get back in the game. The teams traded goals after that with Guerrero Pino scoring on the empty net at the 8:06 mark to seal it for the Comets.
“I love to see the boys play such a competitive game, especially after what I saw Friday,” Comets coach Goran Karadzov said. “The boys were happy after the win, and that was good to see. They want to win, they want to be competitive and they knew they pretty much beat themselves Friday because of all the mistakes. We got the 5-0 lead and got a big win. I just wish it would have been at home so our fans could have seen it, although many Comets fans were in St. Charles for the game.”
After playing two games in 15 hours, the Comets are idle until Jan. 13 and 14 when they travel to Ontario and San Diego for a two-game West Coast road trip. The team returns home Jan. 20 to face the Syracuse Silver Knights at the SEC Arena.