by Pat Clifton

KANSAS CITY (Jan. 26, 2020) – Head coach and league-leading point scorer Leo Gibson led the Kansas City Comets to a 12-4 victory over the winless Rochester Lancers Sunday at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena with a season-high six goals. He secured the hat-trick in the opening quarter, and Rochester could never shut the floodgates.

The win improves the Comets to 6-6, as they’re in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race exactly midway through the season. The loss drops the Lancers to 0-11.

Rochester peaked early, as not a minute into the game the Comets found themselves down a man. Goalkeeper Nicolau Neto was shown blue for a straight-leg challenge outside the box, resulting in a penalty kick and a power play. Neto rebuffed the penalty kick, but when he and Nacho Flores got tangled up in the net, Gary Boughton put the Lancers up 1-0.

It was Gibson who sat out the two minutes so Neto could stay in the goal, and it was Gibson who brought the Comets level once at full strength with a one-touch blast off an assist from Flores. Gibson added a penalty kick in short order when Robert Kelly was fouled at the top of the box, giving Kansas City a power play.

Seconds later, Gibson added to his league-leading total with a second goal. Robert Kelly was illegally brought down just outside the box, drawing Rochester a blue card and Kansas City a penalty kick. Gibson beat the keeper to his left after a couple of dribbles on the set piece – Kansas City up 2-1.

Rochester drew level when Diego Mayanga displayed some fancy footwork in the box and slipped one past Neto. However, the stalemate wouldn’t last long, as Rochester’s goalie was called for a four-second violation.

John Sosa teed up Flores on the play, and he buried it top shelf. Gibson then secured a first-quarter hat-trick when a midfield turnover created a two-on-none and Matt Lewis fed the coach an easy score. The back-to-back goals put Kansas City up 4-2 going into the second quarter.

Rochester shored up its defense for a stretch, making the Comets work for their fifth goal. It came when Adam James bounced a shot off the backboard and the ball dribbled directly to the feet of Gibson. He did the rest, scoring his fourth.

Gibson picked up his fifth right before halftime. He bounced a shot off the backboard, it ricocheted off the leg of an unsuspecting Lancer and into the net, giving Kansas City a 6-2 halftime lead.

18 seconds into the second half, Kevin Ellis scored his first goal of the night to stretch the Comet lead. Rochester got one back in short order when Jeremy Ortiz finished off a three-on-one successfully.

For the second time in the game, Rochester assisted Gibson with a goal later in the third quarter, as one of his errant shots ricocheted off the back of a Lancer to find pay dirt.

Neto was impressive in his third start for the Comets, only conceding goals on power play and when well outmanned. However, poor distribution from the keeper led to a Rochester two-on-none and subsequent goal.

Back-to-back scores by Robert Palmer and Mirko Sandivari put the game well out of reach at 10-4. Gibson was credited with the assist when he passed it to Palmer off the boards right in front of the posts for the first goal, and Flores teed up Sandivari for the second.

Ray Saari then scored two in quick succession for good measure. The first was assisted by rookie Hector Solorio, then Robert Kelly threaded a long assist to Saari from the yellow line to close out the game.