The Komets came into Friday’s game with one of the top penalty-killing units in the Central Hockey League – No. 4 out of 18 teams with an efficiency of 85.4 percent – but you couldn’t tell against the Bloomington PrairieThunder.
Not on a night the PrairieThunder scored on 4 of 5 opportunities and made Fort Wayne look like the last-place team they are with a 5-3 victory in front of 7,172 fans at Memorial Coliseum.
They pressured us everywhere, and our defense couldn’t handle the pressure, and neither could our forwards. That was the difference, said Fort Wayne coach Al Sims, whose 5-9-1 team had its first three-game winning streak of the season snapped.
And the PrairieThunder (9-6-1) had the league’s worst power play with an efficiency of 12.8 percent.
Obviously, something wasn’t working, Fort Wayne defenseman Keith Rodger said.
Bloomington got a power-play goal from defenseman Jamie Lovell on a shot from the left circle at 8:17 of the first period, after former Komet Travis Granbois set him up with a pass from behind the opposite side of the net.
After Fort Wayne’s Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock took a major penalty for charging Granbois, the Prairie- Thunder went up 2-0 when forward Jason Dale dived toward the net and knocked in a puck that had ricocheted off the left post at 7:21 of the second period.
The Komets responded, though.
Off a faceoff in the offensive zone, three Fort Wayne players swiped at a bouncing puck before Schrock knocked it in at 15:21 for his fourth goal in the last two games. With four players down low attacking the puck behind the Bloomington net, newly acquired forward Tab Lardner emerged with it and whipped it past goalie Marco Emond at 17:50.
Oh, Lardner was great, Sims said. He was blocking shots, scored a goal. I don’t know what else he could have done, but he played really well and was one of our better forwards.
Bloomington regained its lead 1:04 into the third, when forward Jon Booras snapped the puck from the right circle past screened goalie Kevin Reiter. Rodger answered 2:19 later with a shot from 30 feet out, during a power play.
Another power-play goal, at 10:26, gave the PrairieThunder a 4-3 lead, as forward Brian Kaufman scored from the slot at the end of an odd-man rush. Kaufman scored again at 14:11, getting to the rebound of a shot off the crossbar and sweeping it into an empty net. Reiter stopped 18 of 23 shots. Emond stopped 19 of 22.
We’ve just got to learn from this and move on, Rodger said. That’s all you can do from any situation, I think, good or bad. We’ve got to learn from it, come out and put it on Dayton (tonight).