Tacoma, WA- The Tacoma Stars wrapped up their 2017-18 MASL season in a building they couldn’t pick up a win in all year, the Valley View Casino Center against the San Diego Sockers in a pair of playoff losses. The Stars have plenty of company in that regards as no MASL team managed a victory in San Diego.  

To get to that point, the Stars had to run the table in the final three games of the regular season and beat the Sockers at the Accesso ShoWare Center in the first post-season game. That playoff win followed an 0-4 record against San Diego during the regular campaign.  

That conclusion was about right when compared to pre-season goals for Stars Head Coach and General Manager Darren Sawatzky.  

“I think we ended up where we were supposed to end up. We would have liked to move on in the playoffs and we were capable, but we needed to replicate the home win against San Diego down there and that is a tough place to play. Each year, fighting it out to the last game of the season with Ontario has become the norm in terms of making the playoffs. The players bought into a collective and fought for each other, so I believe this season has a lot to build on as we move forward” Sawatzky said.

Fighting it out may be one of the best descriptions of Tacoma’s play this season. A stingy defense and superb goalkeeping from Danny Waltman kept the Stars in games and put them in a position to win during most games. Waltman ended the season in the league’s Top 10 in goals against average (5.88) and wins (11).  

A pair of moves during the regular season brought Tacoma’s top two scorers to the team in Nick Perera with 36 points (24G-12A) and Taylor Walter Bond’s 24 points (17G-7A). Raphael Cox (17G-5A) and Philip Lund (17G-3A) rounded out the Stars roster with 20-plus point seasons. For Lund, it would be a season that ended with nomination to the MASL All-Rookie Team. Lund was joined by Waltman, Raphael Cox, and Troy Peterson as the only Stars to appear in all 22 regular season matches.

Sawatzky said “Philip Lund had an all-star year in his first season here and Raphael Cox decided to make his presence known. Both guys had great years and we added some out of town talent to the local group and they fit in nicely. The league is getting more competitive each year and this group has learned and grown immensely.”

As a team that was defensive centered, the effort as a squad doesn’t always show up in the statistics and it took an entire team effort, something Sawatzky recognized.

“It took until the second to last game of the season to catch Ontario and solidify a playoff spot. That is a 4-5 month process of fighting to get up the ladder. I don’t think it can be said enough that these players stuck together coming from working all day and training late at night to stick to the plan and compete for each other. We look to win titles and trophies but the process of fighting together and gaining a playoff spot is something they can all put in their pocket of character” he stated.  

Now that the Stars season is over, and eyes turn towards the 2018-19 season which begins in December, Sawatzky acknowledges the base he has to build on.

When asked what the off-season priorities might be and any changes the team may be looking to make he said “I usually take a couple weeks before starting that process to let the emotion of the season drift a bit. We have a nice culture with the Tacoma Stars and we will look to maintain that and add to the existing group of quality people here. I appreciate each player and staff member and each day is a great opportunity to get after it.”  

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