San Diego, California
On Anthony Medina’s final regular season game at home before his retirement, the San Diego Sockers (19-3) gave him a game to remember, blowing by the El Paso Coyotes (11-11) by a score of 10-3 thanks to a hat trick by Medina and two goals from Kraig Chiles. Chris Toth put in a darling of a game, making clutch shots when his team needed him most.
It would take a while to get the first goal, but it eventually came after Medina poked in a Ray Contreras pass in the middle of the box for a goal. A scrum would follow immediately after the goal, as both benches started to push and shove each other after some words were spoken. It would end with Luan Oliveira getting a yellow card for severe unsportsmanlike conduct, while Coyote Alejandor Balbuena got a blue card for unsportsmanlike conduct and Daniel Frias got booted out of the game.
After the penalty was killed off by El Paso, San Diego would tack one more on after a reset let them take a shot. The ball was passed off to Brandon Escoto, whose shot rebounded off the shoulder of Hiram Ruiz and went into the net for a wacky goal. Ruiz would eventually get his legs kicked out from underneath him, and the referees were quick to reward the offending Coyote, in this case Christian Gutierrez, with a blue card.
The Sockers would immediately take advantage as Oliveira would slam home a goal to give San Diego a 3-0 lead, which would be the score after one quarter of play.
The Sockers would take the intermission to honor Anthony Medina with a video tribute on the scoreboard and a framed jersey commemorating his time in San Diego. Medina was surrounded by friends and family while Sockers general manager Sean Bowers presented him with the jersey.
The Sockers’ onslaught continued early in the second quarter as Chiles smacked a shot while falling down, going over the head of goalkeeper Eduardo Arevalo and netting another goal. The Coyotes had plenty of fight left in them though, and Gutierrez would curl a shot over the head of a wall of Sockers and past Toth for the first El Paso goal of the night.
San Diego would take that goal right back, however, on yet another power play, this time on a five-versus-three. With only three defenders to face, San Diego passed the ball around until Matt Clare found Escoto in the corner of the box. Escoto placed a powerful kick on his ensuing pass, and San Diego would lead 5-1. This would be the score for the rest of the second quarter.
El Paso came out attacking in the third quarter, but thanks to the marvelous play by Toth, the Coyotes couldn’t find the back of the net. A goal would finally happen after Arevalo couldn’t handle a head shot from Clare and the ball bounced off his hands and into the net for a Sockers goal.
With one minute left in the quarter, Medina would strike one more time, taking a pass from Toth and running with it to the box. His shot crossed up Arevalo and went right past the keeper’s head, giving San Diego a commanding 7-1 lead heading into the final quarter of play.
The fourth quarter began with a red card penalty for the Coyotes as Diego Salas, upset with the referees, spat on one of them. Not taking kindly to this, the referee handed him a red card and ejected Salas from the game. This gave San Diego yet another power play and, mere seconds after getting it, Chiles would snipe one into the back of the net for a Sockers goal.
After Jamie Lovegrove tapped one in for his first goal of the night, the Coyotes would finally strike back with one of their own after Jorge Lozano struck the ball past Toth and Cesar Cerda for their second goal of the night. The Sockers would take it back, however, thanks to one last goal from Medina, who missed the perfect touch he had before, but still clubbed the ball into the back of the net.
While El Paso would still grab one more goal after, it mattered little as the Sockers cruised their way to another win with a score of 10-3 to be undefeated at home for the regular season. Medina called the last game “surreal…but it will probably sink after the season or once we get in the playoffs”, and saying that, “it felt good” to get a hat trick in his final regular season game
San Diego now turns its attention to the postseason and a matchup against the Tacoma Stars. Game One is Thursday in Tacoma. Game Two and a possible Mini-Game will be played at Valley View Casino Center on Saturday, March 10, 7:05 p.m. Tickets priced at $20 for reserved seats or $10 for general admission open seating are on sale now at AXS.com.