Comets open Stokic Era at home against Wave

The Kansas City Comets begin their hunt for the 2024 Ron Newman Cup this Sunday, Nov. 26, at home against longtime rival Milwaukee Wave.

Sunday's Comets-Wave matchup will be winner-take-all in the season series because it is the only time they meet in the regular season. It is also the first time since 2017 that the Comets open the season on home turf.

The Comets bench will look similar, yet different than last season. Stefan Stokic will be manning the bench again, but this time as head coach for the first time. He will be aided by newcomers to the technical staff Matt Gordon and Kye Martey, who both serve as assistant coaches.

"It's a good nervousness. I'm excited for game day and seeing how the guys play together in a regular season game after working with them for four weeks. I've been waiting for this moment for a long time."

On the field, the Comets also have some changes. The team made seven additions, including former MASL Defenders of the Year Robert Palmer and Chad Vandegriffe. Vandegriffe will be out as he serves a one-game suspension for point accumulation.

The Comets also added two new goalkeepers Chris Frederick and Phillip Ejimadu. The team added some youth in the midfield with 21-year-old Leo Acosta and 20-year-old Cisco Lopez. The forward line is the same that finished last year with Leo Gibson, Zach 

Reget and Rian Marques leading the way.

The Comets will be hoping to improve on special teams. They were among the least efficient on the powerplay last season, though they did score an MASL-leading five short-handed goals.

Joining Vandegriffe from the stands will be the injured Leo Acosta (right hip strain) while Junior Kazeem (left foot contusion) is questionable.

Kansas City has had the edge in the series recently, going 8-4 against Milwaukee over the past two seasons and winning all six games at Cable Dahmer Arena.

Milwaukee enters Sunday's matchup under the guidance of ninth-year head coach Giuliano Oliviero. Under Oliviero's leadership, Milwaukee won the 2019 Ron Newman Cup and last season's Eastern Conference title.

"I expect a really good game, especially with only playing them one time this season," Stokic said. "Milwaukee's always been a good team on the road. I'm expecting a battle and hopefully we come out on the winning side of it."

Two-time MASL MVP Ian Bennett leads the Wave into this season with the second-most goals (372) and points (456) in MASL history. The 40-year-old is still lethal with the support of forward Derek Huffman, defender Marcio Leite, and newcomers Breno Oliveira and Ricardo Carvalho.

The Wave will be without Tyler Howard (fibular fracture), Kyle Crain (chronic illness), Marcio Leite (hamstring strain) and Andre Hayne (calf strain).

Tickets for Sunday's home opener are still available at kccomets.com/tickets.