by Pat Clifton

The Kansas City Comets pulled out an overtime win against the Harrisburg Heat Thursday, toppling one of the teams standing between them and their ninth playoff berth in 10 seasons. The win gives the Comets a winning record for the first time this season at 7-6, and it drops the Heat to 9-5, putting the Comets just two wins shy of fourth place. 

Robert Kelly opened the host’s account with a goal in the first 90 seconds. With plenty of space to shoot, he unleashed a rocket from just inside the yellow line. The Heat got the score back two minutes later when Tavon Morgan beat a double team on the boards to feed Marcel Berry in front of an open net. 

With six minutes left in the opening quarter, Nacho Flores and Adam James combined for a give-and-go goal, Flores doing the giving, going and scoring. The score put Kansas City up 2-1. Harrisburg again answered, this time via Jerjer Gibson, who finished off an assist from Daniel Villela which went through the legs of Mirko Sandivari, leveling the score at the end of the first quarter. 

The Comets picked up a pair of cards in the second quarter, Kevin Ellis a yellow for dissent and John Sosa a blue for a hard tackle. Nicolau Neto and the Comet defense delivered the penalty kill while Sosa was in timeout, and the Heat didn’t score while Ellis was off, either. 

The Comets struck first on the other side of halftime via a set piece. John Sosa passed it to Lucas Rodriguez, who faked the shot and passed to Ellis, who blasted a shot off the boards. Gibson gathered the rebound and fired off his own shot, which turned into an assist when Ellis swept the bounce back into the net, giving Kansas City its third lead of the game. 

Like they had all game, the Heat rebutted in quick fashion. Villela scored off the assist from Gibson to level the score at 3-3. Unlike they had all game, they took the lead at the business end of the third quarter with a flukey goal off some Kansas City mishandling. 

However, with 15 seconds left, the Comets were awarded a free kick at the top of the arc. Sosa tapped it to Gibson, who picked up his third assist by feeding Rodriguez for the tying goal. 

Harrisburg regained the lead five minutes into the fourth quarter. The Comets were slow getting back in transition, leaving Nelson Santana with nothing but Neto between him and the goal. Despite getting his foot on it, Neto was unable to make the save. With 10 minutes to play, Harrisburg led 5-4. 

The field became a little bigger in the waning minutes when both teams lost players to the penalty box. First Gibson was sent off for a dangerous tackle, then Harrisburg’s Tom Mellor was sent off for pulling on Robert Palmer from behind. Harrisburg only enjoyed a few seconds with the man advantage, giving the Comets a shortened power play when Gibson’s timeout expired, and Rodriguez buried the tying goal off a Sosa assist, forcing overtime. 

In sudden death, Ty Hall and Nacho Flores got into a tussle. Hall headbutted Flores and choked Ellis for trying to broker peace, resulting in a red card for Hall and a blue card for Ellis. That left both teams with four for the next two minutes. 

Harrisburg lost another player for the game when Jerjer Gibson picked up his sixth foul, resulting in the Heat’s second red card. With just seconds left on the clock before a shootout, Rodriguez sealed the win and a hat-trick with a shot that careened off Villelas and into the net.  

The Comets are back in action Saturday at Milwaukee.