The Tacoma Stars played an enthralling end-to-end match with the Turlock Express last Friday night, emerging victorious thanks in large part to the efforts of Vince McCluskey and Chase Hanson. The Stars entered the match sitting third in the MASL Pacific Conference, needing a win to keep pace with the teams ahead of them in the standings. It had only been only one week since the two squads met in a 7-3 Stars victory.
In terms of action, the first quarter seemed to lack it, with both teams failing to record a shot on goal early in the frame. Tacoma eventually found the net first thanks to stylish teamwork from Cory Keitz and Joey Gjertsen, who linked up for a Gjertsen tap-in.
Turlock equalized later in the period, and the two squads entered the first intermission tied at one.
The second fifteen saw both squads open up. The Stars once again scored first, this time thanks to Vince McCluskey. It was his first of the season and was assisted by Chase Hanson. Joseph Cairel followed up with a goal of his own shortly thereafter to expand Tacoma’s lead. However, the lead would be short lived, as Turlock scored two within in a few minutes of each other to once again level the match.
A Robert Palmer blue card led to a Turlock power play. Turlock once again found the hot foot for them on the night, Ivan Campos, who recorded a first-half hat-trick and gave Turlock a 4-3 lead heading into the half-time break.
Early in the third quarter Turlock earned a blue card. This gave Tacoma a prime chance to level the score, and thankfully for the Stars faithful, Gjertsen pounced on his chance and knocked home his second of the match.
The Stars once again reclaimed the lead thanks to a McCluskey brace, again assisted by Hanson. However, as was the pattern for the night, Ivan Campos once again scored for Turlock to tie the game at 5-5 to wrap up the third quarter.
The fourth quarter saw Tacoma again open the scoring. This goal was probably the best Stars goal of the night, featuring two key passes, one from Cairel and one from Derek Johnson, which unlocked Turlock and gave Robert Palmer the easiest of tap-ins.
The Stars knew they would need at least one more to feel secure in their lead, and oh my did McCluskey provide the security. He broke free down the Stars right-hand side and skipped off of two challenges, found some space and celebrated a well-earned hat trick.
The Stars scored one more insurance goal off the foot of Alex Megson, with Johnson earning his second assist of the night. The Stars held Turlock in the final frame and saw out the 8-5 victory.
The Stars now look forward to the first visit of the season by the San Diego Sockers on Friday, December 1. In what will surely be an intense match-up, the Stars will need to be defensively stout.
“Defending is one of our cornerstones,” said head coach Darren Sawatzky. The Sockers won the most recent meeting between the two squads in San Diego, nearly three weeks ago.
Vince McCluskey is also looking forward to the Sockers visit, saying “It will be a tight game, up until the fourth quarter. We’ll need to defend well to get the job done.”
The last time the teams played, the Sockers were led by Kraig Chiles and a great goalkeeping outing by Boris Prado. The Stars will need to be up to the task come Friday night. Kickoff is at 7:35 PM in Kent, and it is another 2-for-1 beer night!