by Pete Richmire

ONTARIO, CA. - The Tacoma Stars (11-10-1) will wrap up their 2022-23 regular-season campaign with a two-game swing through southern California beginning with a date with the Empire Strykers (12-7-3) tomorrow night in Ontario. The Western Conference is a battle heading into the final weekend with four teams within five points of each other and any one of them could finish between the conference's number three seed, or out of the playoffs.

Thursday is Tacoma's first game back at Toyota Arena since the Stars opened the season with a 7-5 win over the Strykers. The Stars were led that night by Mike Ramos with four points on a pair of goals and assists. Jamael Cox added a hat trick with Nick Perera and Adrian Correa having a goal and an assist each.

On the Empire side of the ball, it was Justin Stinson with a hat trick and Juan Topete with two goals leading the way. 

Fast-forward 17 weeks later and Thursday's game could help the Stars in the playoff hunt, or put them in a position that would take a tremendous amount of help from other teams to reach the postseason. A win for the Strykers will clinch a playoff berth leaving Tacoma, Mesquite, and Monterrey to fight for the final two spots in the West.

Both the Strykers and Stars enter the game having dropped their previous outing, the Stars a 5-3 loss in Dallas and Empire a 5-4 overtime defeat in San Diego. When these teams meet tomorrow, it will likely take more than five goals to get the job done as the league's top two leading scorers will be facing off in Tacoma's Nick Perera and Empire's Franck Tayou, both members of the MASL's 400-point club.

Perera leads all scorers in the league with 66 points on 31 goals and a league-best 35 assists. 15 points behind him in the second spot is Tayou with 51 points on a league-best 36 goals and 15 assists. Trying to stop them will be a pair of keepers tied for fourth all-time in the MASL with 85 wins, Tacoma's Danny Waltman and Empire's Chris Toth. 

Whether a Stars fan or Strykers fan, this is a huge game for each team if they hope to be in the chase for the 2023 Ron Newman Cup. The game kicks off tomorrow at 6:05 on MASLtv's Twitch TV. You can catch every minute live at