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Unstoppable Comets visit St. Louis and Tacoma

Can the Comets improve to 8-0?

Comets face a familiar foe in St. Louis
Thad Bell

The Kansas City Comets will complete their longest road trip of the season with a pair of games this weekend.

The MASL’s only remaining unbeaten team will put their record to the test on Friday with their second visit to the St. Louis Ambush this season.

MASL Regular Season- Matchday 7

Kansas City Comets @ St. Louis Ambush

When: Friday, January 14, 7:35 p.m. CST

Where: The Family Arena, St. Charles, Missouri

How To Watch: MASLtv

Following Friday’s match in St. Charles, the Comets will travel west for the first time this season, where Danny Waltman and the Tacoma Stars await the Central Division leaders.

MASL Regular Season- Matchday 8

Kansas City Comets @ Tacoma Stars

When: Sunday, January 16, 7:05 p.m. CST

Where: accesso ShoWare Center, Kent, Washington

How To Watch: MASLtv

The Comets (6-0; 18 points) are the only remaining unbeaten team in the MASL after the Ontario Fury beat the San Diego Sockers in overtime last week. KC sits at the top of the Central, nine points separating them and the second-place Dallas Sidekicks and third-place St. Louis Ambush.

Leading the league with 48 goals scored and a +22 goal differential, the Comets are coming from a 9-3 win over the Sidekicks. It was close for most of the game before the Comets ran away with it late. KC now sits with a 4-0 record on the road.

Kansas City is looking to improve their special teams as they sit at midtable with a .444 powerplay percentage (8 of 18) and .438 penalty kill (7 of 16). KC and St. Louis are both tied with a league-leading eight powerplay goals.

The clearances of Lucas Sousa and Rian Marques a couple of weeks into the season have only strengthened an already talented Comets squad.

Players to Watch:

Leo Gibson - Sitting on 392 points, the Comets legend is looking to beat Ontario’s Franck Tayou (398 points) to become the first player to 400 carer points in the MASL. Gibson leads the league with 16 points.

Lucas Sousa - Scoring in every game he’s played in, the Comets midfielder is second on the team with seven goals in four games.

Rian Marques - Similar to Sousa, the target forward has scored in every game this season, hitting the back of the net five times in three games.

KC Injury Report

OUT: Nick McDonald (health and safety protocols); Henry Ramirez (right knee - out for season)

PROBABLE: Nicolau Neto (right groin strain)

All four teams in the Central play a divisional game and a nondivisional game this weekend.

St. Louis Ambush

The St. Louis Ambush are on their second coach of the season after parting ways with Greg Muhr last week. Taking over as interim head coach is co-owner and GM Jeff Locker.

Locker’s first game as interim head coach came last Friday, leading the Ambush to a 7-3 win over the Stars. That was followed by a much less satisfying result on Sunday when the Stars smashed the Ambush 15-5, facing as much as a 12-goal deficit in the second half.

The Ambush (3-5; 9 points) now sit in third place of the Central Division and trail the Comets by 9 points. STL has a 1-2 record at home, previously beating the Milwaukee Wave on home turf on Dec. 19.

STL isn’t very good on special teams, sitting in the bottom third of the MASL in both powerplay percentage (.333; 8 of 24) and penalty kill percentage (.421; 8 of 19), though the Ambush can also be dangerous when down a man as they lead the league with four shorthanded goals. STL’s 24 offensive powerplays and 19 penalty kill opportunities is more than any other team.

St. Louis lost both games against the Comets on the opening weekend of the season, suffering a 6-4 defeat in STL before losing 11-6 in KC. Previously, St. Louis hasn’t been kind when the Comets visit.

Players to Watch:

Mohamed Ndiaye - Leads the Ambush with 13 points, fourth in the league, from four goals and nine assists, averaging 1.9 PPG. Had three goals and an assist in the two games against KC earlier this season.

JT Thomas - Fifth-year forward is always a threat against KC. Has 25 points in 21 games against KC, including two goals and two assists against KC this season. Looking to end a streak of two games without a point. Leads the league with four powerplay goals.

Vadim Cojocov - STL’s leading goalscorer with eight goals as a defender. The league’s fifth-leading goalscorer.

Tacoma Stars

Tacoma is managed by first-year head coach Mike Jennings, who has been with the Stars organization since 2016, previously serving on the technical and medical staff.

Under Jennings, the Stars (2-2; 6 points) sit in third place in the West Division, where they lead the division with 33 goals scored. All four of Tacoma’s games have been at home, as they hit the road for the first time this season in their trip to Kansas City next weekend.

The Stars boast the best penalty kill in the league, killing 9 out of 9 penalties. Tacoma also sits fourth in the league on the powerplay with a .571 PP percentage, scoring on 4 of 7 powerplays.

Tacoma is coming from mixed results against the Ambush last weekend, losing the first game 7-3 before beating the Ambush 15-5 a couple of days later.

The Stars are still looking for their first deep playoff run (1-8 playoff record in four appearances) and their first divisional/conference title since joining the MASL in 2014/15.

The Stars came away with their first-ever wins in KC last season, beating the Comets 6-5 in both meetings.

Players to Watch:

Danny Waltman - In his 7th season with the Stars, the Comet great remains one of the top keepers in the league. The Gig Harbor, WA native has two wins and leads the West with 52 saves. The 40-year-old had two games last month where he was credited with 22+ saves, including 26 saves and a .885 save percentage against Dallas on Dec. 18.

Nick Perera - The 2018/19 MVP and former player-coach is still playing at a high level. Perera is leading the league with 4.0 points per game and is tied with Gibson for a league-leading 16 points. The 35-year-old is coming from a career-high 9-point performance against St. Louis.

Lamar Neagle - The 9-year MLS veteran is back with the Stars, but has only played one game since signing last month where he registered one foul. In three seasons with Tacoma, Neagle has 14 points in 23 games.

Final Predictions

As the only unbeaten team in the league, the Comets have a target on their back.

I think KC goes another week unbeaten, coming away with an 8-5 win in St. Louis and a 9-6 win in Tacoma.