With the Tacoma Stars in town, the Missouri Comets put together a nearly perfect game to complete their first undefeated regular season.Leo Gibson led the way with a MASL record 12 point game (including eight goals and four assists), as the Comets finish the MASL season with a 17-1 rout of the Stars and a perfect 20-0 season.
While winning their 25th straight regular season game (dating back to last season), the night belonged to forward Leo Gibson. On the night the veteran forward clinched the MASL's Golden Boot, Season Points Champion and set a league record for the most points in a game with 12.
The Tacoma Stars kept the game close for the first 11 minutes of action by packing their defense into a tight shell in front of their goalkeeper while the Comets attacked and then trying to pressure the home side in their own defensive zone. While this strategy kept the game scoreless for the majority of the first quarter, it couldn't hold back the Comets scoring machine for long. In the space of nearly four minutes, Gibson took the offense on his back and scored four straight goals to end the opening quarter. The floodgates were now open as the Comets added seven more goals in the second quarter, four of them assisted by Gibson.
With the game firmly in hand and a 11-0 lead, the Comets started the second half the same as they had against several of their lesser opponents this season. They held possession, but didn't hold back when presented with an attacking opportunity. The Stars were able to finally find the net and break the shutout, but the Comets added three of their own in the quarter, including Gibson's fifth goal and ninth point of the game.
Excitement filled the Independence Events Center as the fourth quarter began. With a 14-1 lead, the result was not in question, but the fact Gibson was only two points away from the record began to circulate through the crowd.
"The boys wanted to do this for him (Gibson). He had taken care of them all season, he leads the league in assists, and they wanted to help him tonight." said head coach Vlatko Andonovski about his team's fourth quarter motivation. Indeed Gibson had 41 assists going into the game, 15 more than any other player in the league.
Gibson loved the support from his teammates. "My good friend Vahid (Assadpour) kept telling me all night, 'you need two more, you need one more', then John Sosa would tell me, 'we'll get you'...it felt like we needed to get this done and they were all behind me to do it."
Within the first five minutes of the final quarter, Gibson tied the record with goals assisted by Assadpour and Bryan Perez. Then with 3:38 to play and a Power Play opportunity, Assadpour once again found his friend Gibson for the record setting score.
"We had several goals at the start of the season and tonight we've made it about halfway down our list," Andonovski said. "We are excited to be able to play the playoffs in front of our home crowd, but we have some work to do and hopefully we can accomplish some more of our goals"
The Comets first ever 20-0 season assures them of home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Their first test comes on March 12th against either the Chicago Mustangs or Milwaukee Wave. To a man, the players are excited about their great regular season, and some even admit they will take a day and celebrate it. There is a larger mission for them though, as they want to follow their perfect regular season with another championship.