by Pete Richmire

LAKELAND, FL. – The Kansas City Comets (1-1) led for most of Friday night’s contest, but the last goal of the game went to the Florida Tropics (3-0) in overtime keeping them perfect to begin the season. Leo Gibson notched a hat trick for Kansas City in the losing effort. Ian Bennett continued his hot start for the Tropics with three goals and two assists in the win.

The Comets controlled the game almost from the start with three straight goals to open scoring. Gibson’s first of the night was a short-handed marker with 5:28 remaining in the first frame. Henry Ramirez was in the right place at the right time and knocked in a rebound in front of the goal putting Kansas City up 2-0 with 3:17 to go. Lucas Sousa then managed to get one past Florida keeper Hugo Silva by trickling the ball along the ground from the left side with just two seconds left in the opening quarter giving the Comets a 3-0 advantage.

The second quarter saw the teams combine for seven goals, including the first two by Florida starting with Bennett’s first of the game on a nice heel pass from Bruno Henrique. Less than two minutes later Ricardo Carvalho cut the Kansas City lead to 3-2 with an assist from Ricardinho Sobreira with 10:49 to play in the first half. Kansas City’s Kevin Ellis connected with Gibson who fired a rocket from the left side to make it a 4-2 Comets lead.

Bennett, who finished the game with five points for the Tropics, assisted Guilherme Dos Santos to come within one at 4-3 with 5:20 remaining in the second quarter. Back-to-back Comets goals from Matt Lewis and Adam James less than a minute apart built the Kansas City lead to three once again with one minute to go in the half. That was all Florida needed for a Victor Parreiras goal and it sent the teams to the locker room with the Comets leading 6-4.

Like the first half, Gibson opened scoring in the second, this time on a power play goal assisted by Lucas Sousa for the Comets lone second half tally. The held a 7-4 lead with 11:02 to go in the third. A pair of power play goals from Bennett and Dos Santos brought Florida within one to end the third and set up an exciting final 15 minutes of play.

Unlike the first three quarters, the fourth was a defensive battle with neither team looking to run on odd-man rushes. A total of three shots were taken in the fourth, two by Florida. It was Sobreira’s shot for the Tropics which knotted the match 7-7, on Bennett’s assist, his fourth point of the game. Regulation play ended with that score and a 10-minute, golden goal overtime period was set.

Bennett’s fifth point, the game winning goal was a chip shot over Kansas City keeper Nicolau Neto which ended the match. The final goal came on an assist from Anthony Arico and was the only time the Tropics led during the match.

These two teams will meet again on Sunday at 3:05 pm EST and the Comets will play one in St. Louis next week before returning to Cable Dahmer Arena to welcome the Tacoma Stars on January 22. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster or by calling (888) 9-COMETS.


1st – KC Gibson 9:32 SH; KC Ramirez 11:43; KC Sousa 14:58. Penalties – KC Lewis blue card (pushing) 7:42.

2nd – FLA Bennett (Henrique) 2:44; FLA Carvalho (Sobreira) 4:11; KC Gibson (Ellis) 6:10; FLA Dos Santos (Bennett) 9:40; KC Lewis (Sousa) 13:37; KC James (Ellis) 14:00; FLA Parreiras (Teixeira) 14:50. Penalties – none.

3rd – KC Gibson (Sousa) 3:58 PP; FLA Bennett (Parreiras) 9:02 PP; FLA Dos Santos (Parreiras) 14:17 PP. Penalties – FLA Teixeira blue card (tripping) 3:14; KC Lee blue card (boarding) 8:16; KC McDonald blue card (contact above the shoulder) 13:33.

4th – FLA Sobreira (Bennett) 12:06. Penalties – FLA Vandegriffe blue card (kicking); FLA Teixeira blue card (tripping); KC Sosa yellow card (delay of game).

OT – FLA Bennett (Arico) 5:02. Penalties – none.

Shots – Kansas City 7-6-2-1-3 (19); Florida 6-14-7-2-1 (30)