Comets visit undefeated Sockers
Kansas City Comets vs Tacoma Stars
Sunday, January 15 — 7:05 p.m. CST
Where | Pechanga Arena - San Diego, California
The Kansas City Comets (4-3-2) are looking to change their luck in interconference play when they visit the unbeaten San Diego Sockers (5-0-0) on Sunday evening.
In East versus West matchups this season, the Comets are 0-3 after a road loss to the Mesquite Outlaws before falling at home to the Monterrey Flash and Tacoma Stars.
Comets player/coach Leo Gibson believes both conferences are strong but believes the Western Conference has shown a greater desire to win. “On any given day if you play a team and you don’t show up like you want it, then obviously they will be more successful than you. They are showing up and they are showing their desire and drive that they want to win more.”
The Comets are fresh from a disappointing showing against Tacoma, where they lost 7-5 and fell apart moments after finding the equalizer in the fourth quarter. In response to a second straight loss at home, the Comets turned up the intensity at practice leading up to the matchup with the Sockers.
Progressing on special teams throughout the season, the Comets lead the MASL with 10 power play goals, converting on 44% man-advantages. The Comets are also among the best on the penalty kill, escaping unscathed nearly 70% of the time and are the only team to score two short-handed goals.
John Sosa and Lucas Sousa have combined for 31 points this season from 14 goals and 17 assists, with Sosa leading the league with 11 assists. Nicolau Neto leads the league with 105 saves.
The Comets have been among the top five defensive teams in the MASL this season, conceding 5.1 goals per game. The only teams better are Mesquite, Monterrey, Milwaukee and Sunday’s opponent, the 16-time champion San Diego Sockers with 3.2 goals allowed per game.
Successfully repeating as Ron Newman Cup champions last season, the Sockers are among the favorites for a third consecutive title this year as the last remaining undefeated team.
“They have a bunch of good players who are very smart and skillful,” Gibson said. “Collectively, they use that pretty well. They have had success, so confidence is a huge part of it too. All of those things make them such a good team.”
Leading the league’s strong defense is former Comets goalkeeper Boris Pardo. In his seventh season with San Diego, Pardo leads the MASL with five wins and a 3.22 goals against average.
Pardo is helped out by another ex-Comet, Guerrero Pino. Pino has been a key member of the Sockers defense since moving to San Diego in 2018, helping the Sockers win two Ron Newman Cup titles.
The Sockers offense is stacked with a cast of difference-makers led by Christian Gutierrez and Tavoy Morgan, who have combined for 16 points in the opening five games. Averaging 2.55 points per game throughout his MASL career, Sockers veteran forward Kraig Chiles has also contributed five goals in four games this season.
Both sides met at Pechanga Arena last year, with Brandon Escoto’s four-goal game leading the Sockers to overcome an early deficit to run away with an 8-3 win in a physical battle.
The Comets are looking for their second straight road win on Sunday in Southern California before visiting the St. Louis Ambush on Friday, January 20 and returning to Cable Dahmer Arena on January 21 to face the Milwaukee Wave on Retro Night. Ticket packages are available at www.kccomets.com/retro-pack-special.