Overcoming another shaky start, the Kansas City Comets spoiled Milwaukee Wave’s New Year's Eve home opener and extended their winning streak to five games with a 6-5 win over the Wave on Friday afternoon.
This brings an end to a streak of five consecutive times that Milwaukee won on their annual New Year’s Eve game, last losing on Dec. 31, 2015, to the Chicago Mustangs by a final score of 11-10.
Following Wednesday’s 10-4 comeback win over Milwaukee, the Comets grabbed their third road win of the season despite the loss of Kevin Ellis and Ramone Palmer through injury.
Just like Wednesday, the Wave started as the better side. Less than three minutes in, Wave forward Andre Hayne scored his first of the season after being allowed space to turn and fire a shot just inside the far post. Hayne scored again with over four minutes remaining. Luan Oliveira made it 3-0 for the hosts, rifling a shot into the back of the net on the powerplay.
The Comets answered in the second quarter with three goals. First, Kyle McLagan put the Comets on the board with a goal three minutes into the second period. About two minutes later, KC made it 3-2 as ex-Wave forward Mike Da-Silva knocked in his first goal of the season. The Comets equalized with 6:52 remaining in the half after Nicolau Neto’s ball to the corner caused problems right in front of goal and was eventually knocked in by Rian Marques for his third of the season.
Tied 3-3 at halftime, the Wave edged in front again with 9:51 remaining after Stuart Grable scored to make it 4-3 moments after coming out of the penalty box. This time, KC’s response was quicker. Lucas Sousa scored his sixth of the season with 5:12 remaining. McLagan scored his second of the game with a high and powerful strike from a tight angle to give KC its first lead of the game with 2:30 remaining in the third. KC took that 5-4 lead into the fourth quarter.
It was inevitable, but Ian Bennett finally got on the scoresheet 23 seconds into the fourth quarter to level the score at 5-5. The Comets scored another go-ahead goal, this time from Sousa with 11:02 remaining in the contest, calmly sliding a shot past the keeper.
Sousa was later given a very soft blue card for tripping with under four minutes to play. Going 0 for 2 on the penalty kill, the Comets stood strong and killed their only penalty of the game. Shortly after Sousa was released from the box, Milwaukee’s Oliveria was sent to the box for tripping with 1:10 remaining. After that, the Wave never got another touch of the ball as the Comets closed out the game with more than 20 consecutive passes.
Now with a 5-0 record, this is just the second time the Comets will enter the New Year undefeated, previously going 10-0 before the New Year in the Comets’ undefeated regular season in 2014/15.
Comets keeper Nicolau Neto was stellar in goal, recording a .773 save percentage and tying a season-high 17 saves. He kept KC in the game with some big stops in the first quarter and earned his league-leading five wins. Making his first MASL start, Wave keeper Auggie Reye had 13 saves and a .684 save percentage.
Player-coach Leo Gibson’s role on the field was limited mostly to dangerous restarts, powerplays and penalty kills. The Comets legend was held scoreless on Friday.
McLagan and Sousa each had a team-leading two goals, though Sousa grabbed the game-winner in the fourth quarter. Milwaukee was led by Ian Bennett, who had three assists and a goal, and Andre Hayne, who had two goals.
Friday’s win wasn’t pretty. A lot of early chances allowed as Milwaukee outshot KC 13-4 in the first half, plenty of missed scoring opportunities, receiving three 2-minute penalties and four 5-minute penalties, and going just 1 of 3 on the powerplay. But they managed to get the job done in Milwaukee on their home opener. KC will take a win in Milwaukee anyway they can get it.
The Comets have won back-to-back games against the Wave for the first time since November 2016.
After the latest results in the Central Division, which also included the Dallas Sidekicks completing a two-game sweep of the St. Louis Ambush, the first-place Comets (5-0) sit 14 points clear of the last-place Milwaukee Wave (0-3-1) and six points clear of the second-place Dallas Sidekicks (2-3-0) and third-place St. Louis Ambush (2-4-0).
The table will alter again on Sunday when Milwaukee hosts Dallas and the Ambush visit the Tacoma Stars.
The Comets return to action next Saturday, Jan. 8, when they visit the Sidekicks.