FORT WAYNE – If you had counted the Komets out, you most certainly were not alone.
The Memorial Coliseum crowd of 6,966 spent the better part of Friday night jeering as the Komets fell four goals behind the Wichita Thunder.
But then the Komets did something they almost never do: They showed heart at home in a game they trailed against a seemingly superior foe.
And they won, 5-4 in an overtime shootout, in what coach Al Sims called his team making a statement.
I guess were the hottest team in the league now, said Sims, whose Komets (17-18-5) have won five of six games. For our guys to win at home like that, after almost everybody had probably counted us out, and said: They cant play at home. They cant do it. They can only do it on the road.
I think we put a lot of rumors to rest tonight.
In defense of the doubters, the Komets are riding a seven-game winning streak on the road, the longest such surge in the CHL this season.
But they came into Friday in a 1-3-3 drought at the Coliseum.
The Komets had led in at the first intermission in only eight of their 19 home games, and they were 0-5-0 when trailing at the break. Those numbers looked sure to worsen, after Wichita (23-15-4), which had won 8 of 10, scored four goals in various ways.
Left wing Matt Robinson netted a power-play goal 15:43 into the game.
Center Chris Greene redirected a slow-rolling puck at 17:23.
Left wing Lance Galbraith polished off a 2-on-1 rush at 5:02 of the second period. And right wing Jesse Bennefield scored on a penalty shot at 15:56 after he was hauled down by defenseman Craig Cescon.
Playing without defenseman Michael Ratchuk, who was recalled to Springfield of the AHL, and the injured Leo Thomas, Neil Musselwhite, Brandon Warner and Danko Mironovic, a Komets comeback seemed unlikely.
But it began 2:43 into the third period, when defenseman Bobby Phillips shot from the blue line floated over the stick of goaltender Marc-Antoine Gelinas. Forward Tab Lardner netted a rebound during a power play at 12:10.
With fans filing out of the building, forward Sean OConnor redirected left wing P.C. Drouins blue-line shot at 19:20. And 32 seconds later, a Drouin pass set up Lardner for a spinning backhand shot from 20 feet out to force overtime.
The only shootout goals were scored by Artem Podshendyalov and Guy Dupuis. Fort Wayne goalie Nick Boucher stopped 21 of 25 shots and all four shootout attempts. Gelinas stopped 38 of 42 shots and 2 of 4 shootout attempts. The teams meet again tonight in the Coliseum.