Win shows Comets may be starting to break out
Leo Gibson was tickled pink – and it had nothing to do with the rosy hued specialty jerseys his team wore in Friday night’s 9-5 victory over the visiting St. Louis Ambush.
Three times this season, Gibson has watched his Comets let a late three-goal lead slip away. But Friday night at Cable Dahmer Arena, the Comets seemed to get stronger as the game went on, including two game-clinching goals in the final two minutes.
“This was a big night, a big win, especially winning at home,” said Gibson, the player/coach who along with seven other Comets players missed their last game, a thrilling 5-3 win over San Diego, due to COVID-19 protocols.
“Our last win was so important because everyone who played gave it all they had, and that is what we did tonight. We need to put a win streak together to improve our chances of making the playoffs.”
The Comets (3-4) have won two in a row and Adam James, who had four goals Friday, and goalkeeper Nicolau Neto, who starred in the net, believe the past two wins are foreshadowing a successful streak.
James scored a goal in the first period, with a crowd-pleasing no-look heel kick, and added two goals in the third and a finale with just 20 seconds left.
When asked about the heel kick, he grinned and said, “Heel, head, foot, toe, nose – whatever it takes to put the ball in the net.
“Really, it’s just instinct. Goal scorers have that instinct around the net and I got a great assist (from Matt Lewis) and was able to score. It gave us a 3-1 lead, a little breathing room, and we were able to maintain that lead the rest of the night.”
James said the team never got down, even when losing heartbreaker after heartbreaker at the beginning of the season.
“We knew we were right there and eventually things would go our way,” James said. “Our last two wins have been special, and I believe we can build off them.”
So does Neto, who stopped 8 of 13 shots, despite taking a knee to the face and his left arm at 8:23 of the first period.
“I got hit on the side of my face, and then took a knee to my arm and I couldn’t raise my (left) arm,” Neto said. “It took a few minutes for me to get the feeling back in my arm, but the pain was still there. But there was no way I was coming out of the net.”
As he visited about the game, Comets goalie coach Kenny Mayer walked by and said, “That man is a warrior! He is a game changer! He was amazing tonight, just amazing.”
The Comets took a 4-1 lead into halftime, and a 7-3 lead into the fourth quarter.
Will Eskay and J.T. Thomas scored quick goals for the Ambush to make things interesting, but Kansas City’s Mike DaSilva hit a midfield, empty net goal with just 2:06 left and James iced the win with 20 seconds left.
“The guys played great tonight,” Neto said. “St. Louis is explosive and our defenders were great tonight, I am so proud of the way everyone played. Two weeks ago we were 1-4 and now we are 3-4 and I believe we are going to put together a winning streak that will allow us to make the playoffs.”
Ray Lee added a pair of goals, Lewis had a goal and two assists, Rian Marques had a goal and an assist and Kyle McLagan contributed two assists for the Comets.
The Comets wore pink specialty jerseys that were auctioned off after the game with benefits going to the Ali Kemp Foundation that provides safety awareness and self-defense training for girls and women.