Everyone at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena Saturday afternoon – even Kansas City forward Leo Gibson – anticipated an overtime game when his Comets and the Florida Tropics were tied 4-4 with just five seconds left in regulation.
That’s when the unexpected happened.
Florida’s Rafa Alves was issued a blue card for tripping Gibson on a breakaway and the Comets forward was awarded a shootout opportunity.
The team’s all-time scoring leader and assistant captain Gibson coolly beat goalkeeper Jorge Navarrete for the game-winner with just 2.5 seconds left in the 5-4 triumph.
“It was a very exciting game and a very exciting finish,” Gibson said. “It was a game where the two teams kept trading leads and we were able to score at the end and get the win. This one felt good, very good.”
Florida’s Antonio Manfut started the scoring early off a pass from Ricardo Diegues. Anthony Arico followed less than a minute later after a giveaway by the Comets.
Kansas City goalkeeper Mark Saxby made a sliding save at half against former Comet Andre Braithwaite, but could not stop Arico.
Bryan Perez earned his 250th career point with and assist to John Sosa on a power play goal. Sosa rocketed another one in only three minutes later to knot the score at 2-all.
Florida’s Victor Parreiras scored minutes into the second quarter, but once again, Kansas City found the equalizer as Adam James scored to make it 3-3.
Lucas Rodriguez then gave the Comets a 4-3 lead – their first of the game – just 30 seconds after James’ goal.
Kansas City’s only blue card of the night – given to Kiel Williams for tripping – led to a power play goal from Braithwaite to even it 4-4.
After a goal-filled second quarter, the third quarter was relatively quiet with no goals for either side. Saxby came up big for the Comets with two saves to maintain the tie.
With the game seemingly headed into overtime, Gibson recorded the dramatic game winner to help the Comets improve to 6-4.
“We are so much more confident now than we were in the beginning of the season,” Gibson said. “We have confidence in each other and Mark is playing very well in the net. Each time he goes out, he improves and you can see his confidence growing along with the rest of the team.”
After four in a row at home, the Comets will head to St. Louis next week for a cross-state matchup against the Ambush. The Feb. 9 match kicks off at 7:05 p.m. and will be streamed live on MASL.tv.
The Comets return to Silverstein Eye Centers Arena Feb. 16 for the annual Pink Game. The team will be wearing special pink jerseys that will be auctioned off throughout the game to benefit the Ali Kemp Foundation.