Komets goaltender Kevin Reiter could be forgiven if he was a little frustrated – and he was – for having a 2-7-1 record.
The amount of support he had gotten from his teammates was lacking. In the 10 games before Sunday that Reiter was the goalie of record, the Komets had scored only 19 times, and the defense was spotty, too, leaving Reiter with a goals-against average of 3.05 and a save percentage of .890.
That all changed against the Mississippi RiverKings, though.
The Komets' offense put forth its second highest total of the season in a 6-1 evisceration of a familiar foe – goaltender Larry Sterling.
The former Port Huron Icehawks goalie allowed two goals on the first two shots, four on the first 14, and six on the first 17, after which he was yanked from the game. Memorial Coliseum fans love to jeer Sterling, and the 7,429 in attendance had plenty of opportunities, as the Komets got goals from Frankie DeAngelis, Derek Patrosso, P.C. Drouin, Danny Lapointe, Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock and Tab Lardner
Not bad, considering the Komets were without forwards Mathieu Curadeau (upper body), Leo Thomas (ankle) and Sean O'Connor (flu), plus defensemen Brandon Warner (shoulder) and Keith Rodger (bereavement).
"That first shot went in on Larry, and I didn't know what to expect. I'm not used to having that kind of goal support," Reiter said, after snapping Fort Wayne's four-game winless streak at home. "It just felt good to get one at home. It had been a long time. We'd been battling and battling, trying to get one for these fans, and we finally did it tonight."
The Komets went 2-0-1 over the weekend, and they are on a 7-1-4 surge that has pulled them into a tie with Evansville for the eighth and final playoff spot out of the Central Hockey League's Turner Conference, though the Komets have played four fewer games.
"These were points we needed and had to have," coach Al Sims said. "We finally tied somebody in the cellar. Somebody else is with us, now, so hopefully we can pass them and chase the next team."
The Komets (12-16-5) have hit the midpoint of the season – their first in the CHL after winning three straight championships in the International Hockey League – and they are only 13 points back of conference-leading Quad City.
On the third goal of the game, a Drouin shot off a rebound, Guy Dupuis notched his 436th assist with the Komets. That's the most ever by a defenseman, surpassing Lionel Repka, who set it in 1969. Dupuis has played 1,001 games with Fort Wayne.
Sterling's replacement, Alexander Pechurskiy, stopped all nine shots he faced in the third period for Mississippi (18-18-1). Reiter stopped 37 of 38 shots.
"It was fantastic. It was the best game of the year for him," Sims said. "He made a great acrobatic save in the second period that was vintage Kevin Reiter from his first year here (2007-08), and I think he needed a game like this to gain some confidence and get himself going."
Notes: Komets general manager David Franke said he has no interest in re-signing free agent Brad MacMillan, who spent the last two seasons with the team, and was recently released by Colorado. Once signed, MacMillan would still have to serve nine games of his 22-game Central Hockey League suspension for actions in a preseason game against Odessa, Franke said.