Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"Hot Winter Nights" - Chapter 6--Top 10 Games in Comets History

Pretty self-explanatory...

Wings 10, Comets 9  (December 19, 1986 @ Kansas Coliseum in Wichita)
The only Comets loss that appears on this list, but this was such a good game I feel compelled to include it.  It was our first road trip to Wichita, as well, and my friend Tom and I got to experience the cacophony that was Kansas Coliseum for the first time.  Comets radio man Kevin Wall wasn't BS-ing when he talked about how loud this place got with 10,000 crazies screaming in it.  As the score indicates, it was a crazy game, too.  The Comets led 3-0 after one quarter, 4-2 at halftime and 8-6 early in the 4th.  Then the Wings took the lead on three unanswered goals before K.C.'s Damir Haramina tied it again with a buck-05 to go.  This game set the Comets all-time mark for the shortest OT in team history, as Wings sniper Erik "The Wizard" Rasmussen drilled the game-winner just 30 seconds in—his third goal of the contest to go along with 2 assists.  Disappointing finish, but we had a great time that night.

Comets 6, Wings 0 (April 12, 1991 @ Kemper Arena—Game 1, 1991 MSL Eastern Division
Shutouts in the MISL/MSL were even more rare than perfect games in baseball, and the Comets only had two in their entire 10-year history.  Enzo DiPede recorded the first in a regular season game on January 4, 1984 against the Memphis Americans, and Jim Gorsek threw a no-hitter at the Wichita Wings in this playoff opener.  The Wings couldn't buy a goal that night, even though they had numerous close calls, and Big Jim stopped everything they threw at him, including a two-man advantage, a shootout attempt and over seven minutes of 6th-attacker pressure by Wichita.  The greatest single-game goalkeeping performance by a Comet ever...

10) Comets 10, Steamers 5 (March 21, 1986 @ The Arena in St. Louis)
I rank this one highly more for personal reasons as this was my first road game with the Comets, and I was lucky enough to snag a seat directly behind the Comets' bench at the "Old Barn" on Oakland Avenue.  1985-86 was a down year for K.C., so the Comets vented a little frustration that night by exploding for double-digits on the scoreboard and in doing so, tied the team record for most goals in a road game, including a hat trick by Charlie Fajkus, along with two goals and two assists by my boy Damir Haramina.  Things got a little ugly in this one too, as there were fights galore and Steamers defender Carl Rose was ejected for instigating one of them.

9) Comets 5, Wings 3 (March 16, 1991 @ Kansas Coliseum in Wichita)
My friend Tom and I had made four previous trips to Itchitraw for Comets-Wings contests, and the Wings won all four (three of them by one goal), but we finally got a winner in our final try, which also turned out to be the Comets' final regular season appearance in Wichita and final regular season road win team history.  We took great delight in giving a little guff to the Orange Army (Wings fans) or as I dubbed them, the "Wing-A-Lings", in particular this one old fart who kept accusing the Comets of playing dirty.  Never mind that Omar Gomez of the Wings was ejected for being a douche that night.  "Y'all go home and we'll shut out the lights fer ya!" I quipped.  I truly miss them damn Wing-A-Lings...

8) Comets 5, Sockers 4 [2OT] (March 28, 1990 @ Kemper Arena)
Third-longest game in Comets history (86 minutes, 10 seconds), and a stirring comeback against the Sockers as K.C. knocked in two 6th-attacker goals in a 31-second span late in the 4th quarter to tie it at 4.  Dale Mitchell gave head coach Dave Clements his 200th MISL/MSL coaching win @ 11:10 of the second OT in a game that was televised nationally on ESPN, which Clemo later deemed "a great advert for the sport".  Very true, but sadly, it was too little, too late to save the then-floundering Major Indoor Soccer League.

7) Comets 6, Sidekicks 5 [2OT] (February 27, 1987 @ Kemper Arena)
The 1986-87 season got off to a poor start for the Comets, in which they endured an 8-game losing streak that included an embarrassing 8-4 loss to the hapless expansion New York Express (who folded a month later).  Head coach Rick Benben was dismissed and eventually replaced by Dave Clements, and things started to turn around for the team.  This game was another typical Comets-Sidekicks nail-biter, as Dale Mitchell sent it into OT on a 6th-attacker goal with 42 seconds left in regulation.  The game was also filled with lots of chippy play, but very few penalties were called, and both teams were getting pretty frustrated.  Just :35 into the 2nd OT, Jan Goossens knocked home the game-winner, and in what he later deemed "a moment of mental illness", he ripped off his game jersey in a little dig at the Sidekicks' Tatu and his goal-celebration shtick and ran around the field flailing his arms (@ 2:37 of this video), leading play-by-play man Kevin Wall to proclaim on the air, "The MAGIC IS BACK at Kemper Arena!"  And it was, too!

6) Comets 8, Crunch 6 (May 1, 1991 @ Richfield Coliseum outside of Cleveland—Game 6, MSL Eastern Division Final best-of-seven series)
The Comets staved off elimination in Game 5 of this tough series with a 5-4 OT win at Kemper in what turned out to be the final Comets home game ever, and kept the momentum going in Game 6 in what turned out to be the last game the Comets ever won, period—and best of all, I was there!  The Comets' 1991 playoff run dovetailed nicely into my vacation plans that spring, as I did a baseball/indoor soccer road trip that also took me to Cincinnati, Detroit and Pittsburgh and the ballparks therein, and to Cleveland's Richfield Coliseum for the final two games in Comets history, though we didn't know that for sure at the time.  Game 6 and Game 7 were both exciting contests, but since 6 was the winner, I'll go with it on my list here.  David Doyle had a hat trick on this night, and Carl Valentine added three assists as the Comets held off high-scoring Cleveland for one more night, even though Hector Marinaro had four goals for the Crunch.

5) Comets 9, Wings 8 (April 14, 1991 @ Kansas Coliseum in Wichita—Game 2, MSL Eastern Division best-of-three Semi-Final series)
The Comets' final visit ever to Wichita was a crazy day all the way 'round for the team, but a happy one all the same.  The game was a see-saw affair in which the Wings took an early lead, then the Comets roared back with five goals in the 2nd quarter, only to relinquish the lead again to Wichita in the 2nd half.  Then David Doyle tied it all up at 8 early in the 4th quarter and with just 20 seconds left in the game, Carl Valentine rammed home the game winner and series clincher in the last contest ever staged between the two I-35 rivals.

A funny thing happened to the Comets after the game when their team bus broke down on the Kansas Turnpike en route back to Kansas City.  Head coach Dave Clements, assistant coach Tony Glavin and trainer Doug Wiesner stood guard with the bus until help arrived, but the players all hitched rides with various Comets fans who’d made the trip down I-35 for the game.  My friend Tom and I weren’t among them, unfortunately—we decided not to attend since we'd just gone down there a month before (see #9 above) and besides, the game was aired on local TV here—d'oh!  That would’ve been fun, too—there was plenty of room for a couple players in my ’87 T-Bird.

4) Comets 4, Sockers 3 [OT] (December 5, 1986 @ Kemper Arena)
There were times when the San Diego Sockers seemed like the Ivan Drago of the MISL, and after losing 15 in a row to the Suckers, er uh, Sockers (including more than a few drubbings like disastrous 13-3 shellacking at the hands of San Diego the previous February), we fans were all frothing at the mouth on this night when S.D. came to town early in the '86-'87 season.  And just like Rocky Balboa before them with Comrade Drago, the Comets discovered that the Sockers weren't machines—they were human after all!  K.C. was totally focused this time, taking advantage of two Sockers penalties with power play goals, and Jan Goossens took a feed from Damir Haramina about 4.5 minutes into OT and jammed it home.  From that point onward, the Comets-Sockers rivalry was much more evenly-matched.  Vengeance was ours...for the moment, anyway.

3) Comets 7, Sidekicks 6 [3OT] (December 6, 1987 @ Reunion Arena in Dallas)
At 94 minutes and 23 seconds, this was the longest game in Comets history, a see-saw affair that saw several lead changes throughout, after Kansas City fell behind 4-0 late in the 2nd quarter.  The Comets were on the verge of winning when Dallas' Mark Karpun tied it at 6 on a 6th-attacker goal with 18 seconds left in regulation to send it into extra innings.  As luck would have it, I was working that Sunday afternoon at my radio gig at "The Mighty 1030", KKJC in Blue Springs, and we just happened to be a Comets radio network affiliate, so I got to run the board for the game broadcast during the 4th quarter and all three OTs, during which I was on pins and needles throughout.  When the late Barry Wallace drove home the game-winner @ 4:23 of the 3rd OT, I let out a loud "GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!" in the studio, and the other guy in the building at the time thought the fire alarm had gone off!

2) Comets 7, Sockers 6 [OT] (May 13, 1988 @ Kemper Arena—Game 3, MISL Western Division Final best-of-seven playoff series)
It was Friday the 13th, no less, and it was shaping up like a cursed night for the Comets, as they fell behind 5-1 and 6-2, before roaring back with five goals in the 4th quarter, including Barry Wallace's game-tying goal with less than five minutes left in regulation.  Dale Mitchell capped off the greatest single-game comeback in Comets history with his second goal of the night with a buck-03 left in OT.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to witness the finish because I was due at my new radio gig at KKJO in St. Joseph—an hour's drive from Kemper Arena—and I reluctantly had to leave before the game ended.  However, you can see the goal 2:49 into this video.

1) Comets 4, Steamers 3 [OT] (April 19, 1985 @ Kemper Arena--Game 2, MISL Wildcard best-of-three playoff series)
As I detailed in Chapter 3, this was the sweetest victory of all for me.  This wasn't just a game—THIS WAS WAR!  I look back more fondly on this game/victory more than the Royals winning the '85 World Series five months later.  It was easily the most intense sporting event I've ever attended, bar none...

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