The Missouri Comets earned their first victory of the new year when they beat the Milwaukee Wave 5-4 Saturday night. The Comets also avenged one of their rare losses from a month ago when the Wave managed a win in overtime.
Milan Ivanovic's first of two goals got the home team off to a good start almost ten minutes in and his score was quickly followed up by goals from Vahid Assadpour and Leo Gibson. Milan added another in the second quarter before the Wave were able to get a goal on a penalty shootout to go into the half up 4-1.
The Comets Max Touloute had been dangerous whenever he was on the field and broke through late in the third to give the Comets the 5-1 lead. A penalty and two sixth attacker goals brought the Wave back to within a goal but the Comets held off the visitors in the last minutes to get the win.
"Anytime you beat a team like Milwaukee, Baltimore, Chicago, San Diego it's a big win," Comets head coach Vlatko Andonovski commented after the match. "Those are good teams and the wins mean just maybe a little more. Every win is a win, we totally understand that but these wins mean just a little bit more. It's a character builder, a confidence builder as well so I am really glad we won this game tonight."
Milan's two goal game earned him the man of the match but he was just happy to get the win. "It always feels good when you get the win against Milwaukee; it's a special game for both teams."
When asked if it was good to get revenge on the team that beat them Milan would not use the revenge word but did admit there was some motivation there. "You always get pumped up to play Milwaukee especially when you've lost the previous one," Milan smiled.
Coach Andonovski did admit there was a little revenge motivation but it was more about a recent loss. "There was but one thing we were more focused on was not the game we lost against them (Milwaukee), it was the game we lost against St. Louis," Andonovski explained. "We had a great meeting after the game and I think everyone understands that we were not moving in the right direction even though the record was showing well. Mentality wise, playing wise we were not moving in the right direction but I think after that game things are getting in place."
The Comets got Steve Paterson back from injury and used him in the previous match and got another boost against the Wave when Max Touloute and Alain Matingou both were able to play. This was Matingou's first action of the season after being hurt in training camp and Touloute's first game since pulling a muscle in Chicago.
Touloute was the league leading scorer before getting hurt and looked ready to play against the Wave. Matingou added a physical presence and speed to the backline that needed a player like him, especially with Brian Harris out for another week or so.
Andonovski was happy to get the pair back on the field. "Awesome," was his description. "You can tell they are two of the paciest guys on the field and you can tell that our pace, and not just the pace of the game but just the pure speed of the players, of the team is a lot better."
No goals in the run of normal play
The Wave scored on a shootout, a penalty and two with the sixth attacker so the Comets defense gave up no goals during the normal course of play. "That is what makes me happiest. If you can hold Milwaukee to no goals in the actual run of play then we played good defensively as a team," Andonovski stated.
Oliviero proud of Wave effort
Coming from a 5-1 deficit to close within one was a good effort for the Wave. "Our guys could have easily called it a game at halftime but the way they came out in the second half and performed, to be down one goal left with two and half minutes left is amazing testament to their character," explained Milwaukee head coach Giuliano Oliviero.
"I thought we came out really well until the first media timeout," Oliviero continued. "I thought Boris (Pardo) made some great saves. We had a turnover on the first goal, we had a turnover on the second goal and kind of shot ourselves in the foot a bit. You can't give a quality team like Missouri goals. From there it went 3-1, then 4-1, they played a really disciplined game. There is a reason they are in first place and for us I think it was a big step. Our confidence level is rising; last time we came here we did very well and tonight was a one goal game. It's not how you start the race; it's how you finish the race."
Oliviero used the Comets as an example of how he sees the Wave growing. "I talked to the young guys on the bus today about how the Comets came in the league seven years ago and they were patient and they built every year and every year they got better," Oliviero said. "The last three years they've had the Wave's number and I want these young guys to understand that we are here to take it back."