The Komets have been playing to climb out of the Central Hockey League cellar. They have been playing to save their jobs.
And they’ve been doing it pretty well.
Saturday’s 5-4 victory over the Quad City Mallards at Memorial Coliseum was the third in a row for the Komets, who came into this week having yet to win so much as back-to-back games.
With recently acquired forward Tab Lardner arriving Monday, putting someone’s job in jeopardy, there hardly seemed to be a weak link on the Komets’ roster, as 6,988 fans celebrated like they hadn’t since the Komets they won their third straight IHL championship last spring.
No one was better than forward Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock, the Fort Wayne native, who recorded the first hat trick of his two-year professional career.
With the Mallards ahead 1-0, Schrock got the rally going by sweeping a rebound into the net during a Fort Wayne power play at 17:13 of the first period. Only 10 seconds later, Schrock attacked the rebound of a Sean O’Connor shot and it deflected off his skate before sailing underneath goaltender David Brown.
It wasn’t a franchise record for quickest two goals by single player, but it was close. Lloyd Maxfield scored nine seconds apart in a 10-3 victory over Milwaukee in 1960.
The Mallards were so incensed Schrock’s goal wasn’t disallowed for having been kicked in the net, they took a penalty for delay of game. That set up a Leo Thomas power-play goal from the left circle.
Center Mathieu Curadeau scored on a power play from the right circle at 8:21 of the second period, and Schrock netted his third of the night by jettisoning a wrist shot from the left circle that slipped under the crossbar at 9:06. It was the first hat trick by a Fort Wayne player since Matt Syroczynski on April 11 against Quad City.
But then came some nervous moments for the Komets (5-8-1) and their fans.
After Quad City (8-9-0) coach Frank Anzalone yanked Brown, who had stopped 25 of 30 shots, the players responded. Forwards Mike McLean and Phil Axtell scored to trim the Komets’ lead to 5-3 by the second intermission.
The Mallards’ comeback attempt continued at 5:22 of the third period, when right wing Zac Pearson redirected Brandon Marino’s blue-line shot for a power-play goal.
Notes: The Komets played without defenseman Danko Mironovic and left wing Olivier Legault. … The Mallards scratched center Mark Ehl and defenseman Tyler Townsend. … The referee was Pat Myers. … In addition to his hat trick, Schrock fought Axtell. … It was the Komets’ third game in as many nights.