The Kansas City Comets scored six times in the third period to blow open a one-goal game and hand the SeaWolves a 14-6 beatdown in Tom Traxler’s return to the Orlando bench. With the road loss, the SeaWolves fell to 1-6 on the 2019-2020 season while the Comets improved to 4-5. Kansas City scored first in all four periods of the game and former Orlando City player Kevin Ellis scored five times to sink the SeaWolves.
“Kansas City’s a very good team. They showed that tonight,” Head Coach Tom Traxler said after the game. “We’ve got a lot to work on, but we’ve got to shake it off quick, because we’ve got a turnaround to take on Florida, who’s one of the hottest teams in the league right now, and then get back to work on the training pitch.”
The SeaWolves came out of the gate playing a defensive style, staying behind the ball and trying to stay organized — though at times they were fortunate that Kansas City squandered some early chances. Kansas City did finally cash in on one of those as Kiel Williams beat Fernando Cortes to make it 1-0 to the hosts at the 8:59 mark. Up to that point, the shots were few and far between.
Orlando struck back for a couple of goals before the first period ended. Rodolfo Lopes scored his first of the season off a feed from Jeff Michaud to tie things up at 11:03.
Just 2:13 later Odaine Sinclair smashed a top shelf shot past Mark Saxby to make it 2-1 to the SeaWolves off a Kansas City turnover.
Orlando nearly found a third on another counter attack but Michaud’s blast was saved well by Saxby and the SeaWolves took a 2-1 lead into the second quarter.
Saxby’s save loomed large as the game moved into the second period. Ray Lee equalized in the first minute after the restart with a laser blast past Cortes to make it 2-2. The second period opened up a bit but the SeaWolves struggled to get good shots off and the Comets missed opportunities with poor passes or by firing errant shots. Former Orlando City player Kevin Ellis misfired on a 2-on-1 break and sent his shot over the empty net in his bid to give the Comets the lead. Ellis also misfired off a dangerous set piece later in the period.
The SeaWolves regained the lead with just 4:44 to play in the first half when Rodrigo Kaufmann fired home to make it 3-2.
The lead lasted about a minute. Kansas City came right back to score on a simple give-and-go with Leo Gibson, leaving Williams 1-v-1 with Cortes. He slotted home his second goal of the game to make it 3-3 with 3:31 remaining until the half.
Cortes made a big save to preserve the 3-3 score a couple of minutes later.
Luiz Mota had a glorious opportunity to push Orlando back out front when he took a feed and went 1-v-1 with Saxby but he fired his shot just wide of the near post. But the SeaWolves failed to mark Ellis on a late set piece and the former Lion headed home a simple back-post cross to make it 4-3 just before the break.
Orlando had more shots (15-12) and neither team had a first-half power play. For the most part, The SeaWolves had stayed organized and their plan was working. But a couple of mental breakdowns undid a lot of the good things that Orlando managed in that opening half.
But none of those good things mattered in the second half. The Comets jumped on a lifeless Orlando squad in the third period, out-scoring the SeaWolves 6-1 in the third to completely blow the game open.
The match turned in Kansas City’s favor just a few minutes into the third period when Robert Kelly and Lee scored about a minute and a half apart to extend the Comets’ lead to 6-3. Daniel Jackson pulled one back for Orlando just 30 seconds after Lee’s second of the game to pull the SeaWolves within 6-4, but any momentum was immediately squashed when Ellis scored his second just half a minute after that, restoring the three-goal advantage.
From there it was just a matter of how bad the final score was going to end up. Ellis scored again just two minutes later to complete his hat trick and make it 8-4, and Ignacio Flores quickly made it 9-4. Then Leo Gibson scored on a penalty after Sinclair handled the ball in front of goal. That was caused by a mad scramble that Cortes created by getting caught out of his net and turning the ball over. Kansas City took its 10-4 lead into the fourth period and immediately went on the power play due to a holding call against Eduardo Cruz at the end of the third.
Orlando had nearly killed off the power play when Ellis shot from long range and tucked it inside the far upper corner to make it 11-4. Ellis later added a fifth goal and Gibson and Kelly tacked on one more each. The SeaWolves got goals from Mota and Michaud in the fourth but the second half was all Comets.
It was a brutal second half after a fairly promising first. Traxler said on Wednesday’s Mane Land PawedCast that he didn’t want his team to get into shootouts and that’s unfortunately what happened in the second half. The SeaWolves have only had two training sessions with Traxler since his return, so perhaps there will be some improvement on the horizon.
If not, this is going to be a long, difficult season for SeaWolves fans.
The SeaWolves stay on the road for their next match, but it’s much closer to home. Orlando will visit the Florida Tropics in Lakeland on Sunday at 3:05 p.m.