Comets Come up Short in St. Louis

by Pat Clifton

KANSAS CITY (March 1, 2020) – The Kansas City Comets fell to the St. Louis Ambush 5-4 Sunday at the Family Arena in St. Charles, Mo. The Ambush took the lead early and never trailed but never pulled too far away, either, with the Comets just missing several chances to force overtime right up to the final buzzer.

The Comets came into the game depleted, with Robert Kelly lost for the year to a broken fibula and Kevin Ellis unavailable due to a death in the family. During the game, Odaine Sinclair reinjured his ankle and spent several minutes off the turf, and Stefan Stokic suffered a facial injury that drew blood and warranted a trip to the hospital.

Kansas City was paced offensively by the scoring of Lucas Rodriguez, who netted two goals. Nicolau Neto was heroic in goal, making a laundry list of acrobatic saves to keep the Comets in the game.

Paulo Nascimento was also stellar in the net for the Ambush, despite picking up a pair of blue cards for taking out Leo Gibson and Nick McDonald outside the box. Kansas City’s biggest regret must be failing to capitalize on Ambush indiscipline, as three Comet power plays resulted in penalty kills.

The loss drops the Comets (8-10) below St. Louis (9-11) to seventh place in the Eastern Conference standings. It also gives the Ambush a 3-2 advantage in the I-70 Series, with the decider in Kansas City March 22nd.

St. Louis opened scoring three minutes in Sunday. A Kansas City penalty gave the Ambush a restart at the top of the arc. Neto was able to rebuff the first two shots, but the third, a well-placed laser from Duduca Carvalho, found the back of the net.

The Comets’ first goal also came off a restart, with Gibson finding Rodriguez in the corner from the top of the arc. He slipped the ball between Nascimento’s legs, leveling the table.

Stefan St. Louis put the home team back in front toward the end of the first quarter with an impressive run. He hesitated to freeze Hector Solorio midfield and outpaced Robert Palmer up the right flank, pulling Neto from the goal before assisting Wil Nyamsi.

The entire second quarter was a defensive struggle, with neither team able to reach pay dirt. St. Louis’s first penalty kill started the quarter, and they’d survive another stretch down a man before halftime, taking a 2-1 lead into the break.

JT Thomas scored his first of two goals five minutes into the third quarter, finishing a three-on-two with the assist from Lucas Almeida. It was the only score of the third quarter, which was extended by Stokic’s injury, giving St. Louis a 3-1 lead going into the final stanza.

Robert Palmer ended Kansas City’s dry spell early in the fourth quarter when Gibson picked up a poorly played Ambush ball in the attacking end and dished it to him. Palmer passed to himself off the boards and beat Nascimento to cut the deficit.

St. Louis pushed the lead immediately back to two goals with a second score from Thomas. It also came off the back end of a flurry of shots impressively blocked by Neto, careening off his leg en route to the back of the net.

Mirko Sandivari then scored the goal of the game to make it interesting once more. He spun the ball around the curvature of the boards, past Nascimento and inside the back post. The Comets put Rodriguez in as sixth attacker and spent the remaining three minutes pelting the boards around the goal to no avail.

The Comets are back in action Thursday against the Orlando Seawolves at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.