The San Diego Sockers (18-4) dashed the playoff hopes of their rivals, the Ontario Fury (10-12), by defeating them 8-4 on a night the Fury desperately needed a victory. Brandon Escoto picked up a hat trick while Matt Clare and Kraig Chiles both had two goals apiece. Boris Pardo got the victory thanks to an impressive night in the box.
The Sockers showed off their defensive prowess throughout the first quarter as Pardo made multiple saves and was helped with deflections by defenders like Brian Farber. The Sockers would take some shots towards Fury goalie Claysson De Lima, but both Escoto and Clare would miss their intended targets.
Ontario had their chance on a power play after Farber was handed a blue card for a tripping penalty. The Fury took shot after shot, but thanks to the combined efforts of Pardo, Ray Contreras, Cesar Cerda, and the rest of the San Diego defense, the Fury were kept out of the box and off the scoreboard. The Sockers would keep the match tied at 0-0 after one quarter of play.
Kraig Chiles got the scoring started in the second quarter by dropping off a pass by Cerda into the back of the net for his 50th point of the season. The Fury would come roaring back to take the lead thanks to goals by Francisco Cordeiro and Leonardo De Oliveira, both shots evading the hands of Pardo. Cordeiro’s goal was even more heartbreaking as the ball skittered right underneath the legs of Pardo and into the net.
With time ticking down to the final seconds of the quarter, Clare and Escoto broke away and found open space and made cohesive passes to each other to throw off the defense. It was Clare who would get the shot and goal, and he made it count, blasting the ball past a sprawling De Lima to equalize the game 2-2 with 5.6 seconds left in the quarter. Those seconds would tick down rather quickly and left the game tied after two periods of play.
Nineteen seconds into the third quarter, Chiles would find the back of the net after splitting through two Fury defenders on a breakaway opportunity. Shortly after an Escoto goal, tempers would flare after two blue cards were handed out to both squads for contact above the shoulder penalties. Escoto and Leonardo de Oliveira would get tangled up with each other, and both players weren’t too happy with each other. Both players would play a little more physically, even after the penalties were killed off.
John Sosa would get in on the scoring fun with a goal of his own on a reset shot at the top of the arc. A small stutter step was all it took to throw off the wall of Fury defenders and net Sosa his first goal of the game.
The Fury would tack on a point after Israel Sesay found De Oliveira alone in the box. His pass to him was a little high, but De Oliveira made good use of his head to bounce the ball past Pardo. This goal would make the score 5-3 and it would remain that way for the rest of the third quarter.
With the Fury desperate to hang on to their playoff hopes, the Sockers would put their foot on the gas pedal. It started with Chiles passing the ball off to Clare, who was not picked up by the Ontario defense and easily collected his second goal of the game. Ontario would gift San Diego with a power play opportunity after Thiago Gonzales was caught holding. The ensuing shootout was taken by Escoto and, thanks to his magical footwork, deked De Lima for the easy goal, making the game 7-3.
The game would remain at this score, even with Ontario using a sixth attacker. They would catch a break after Contreras was given a blue card for a handball penalty, giving them a power play. They would strike quickly thanks to the foot of Gonzales, and the Fury had a glimpse of hope. This glimpse turned out to be a mirage as they would not score, and would in fact surrender one more after Escoto took advantage of an empty net to complete his hat trick, making the game 8-4 and ending the playoff hopes of the Ontario Fury.