Saturday night began with one of the biggest checks in years at Memorial Coliseum. Komets defenseman Jamie Milam put Quad City’s Mickey Lang over the boards and into the Fort Wayne bench to the delight of the 9,350 fans.
That set the tone for an evening of hard hits, a 4-0 victory and a lesson in getting traffic in front of the net to score goals.
“If you see our road games, we score a lot of goals that way,” forward Chris Auger said. “Right from the front of the paint, guys like (Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock) get right in front, and it’s starting to pay off for us. We don’t get many 3-on-2, pretty goals.”
But what about that Milam hit? That was the real beauty, no?
“That set the tone. They’re a small team and we want to be physical against them,” Komets coach Al Sims said.
“If you had been where I was standing, you would have heard the pop. He just flew over the boards and couldn’t stop himself. It was a great way to get the crowd into it and get our team going.”
Center Brett Smith, who had two goals and an assist, agreed.
“It was good to get some momentum that way,” he said. “It’s nice to throw the body there. They’re a small, quick team, and to set an example during the game like that really paid off.”
Smith scored in the first period, after camping out along the right goalpost. When left wing Bobby Chaumont fed him a cross-ice pass, Smith was there to bang it off the pipe and into the net.
Center Jean-Michel Rizk scored, too, in the second period. He was fortunate that Schrock sent a shot through a crowd from the left circle. It ricocheted off goaltender David McKee, Rizk caught it against his skate, slid it to his stick and deposited it into an open net.
Smith netted a third-period power-play goal with a backhand that caromed off McKee and in, while two other Komets were camped out around the goal crease.
And Smith set up Artem Podshendyalov during an odd-man rush for a goal and a 4-0 lead at 11:27.
Smith, who is in his first season with Fort Wayne after captaining Bossier-Shreveport to the CHL championship last season, is on a 10-game point scoring streak, during which he’s totaled 17 points. That’s the second-longest such streak in the CHL behind Allen’s Jason Deitsch, who came into Saturday on a 12-game surge.
After what happened Friday, when the Komets (6-5-0) totaled 42 shots and lost 4-2 to Dayton, the elation with the offensive production against the Mallards (5-6-0) was obvious.
Goaltender Nick Boucher stopped performed well Saturday, too, stopping 38 shots for Fort Wayne’s first shutout of the season. And he had a little help from the goalposts, which kept shots by Justin Chwedoruk, Eric Giosa and Justin Hofstetter out of the net.
McKee made 28 saves.
Notes: Forward Jesse Bennefield, who had surgery Thursday for an ankle infection, attended the game on crutches. He’s expected to be out a month. Also out were center Leo Thomas (strep throat) and defenseman Brent Henley (knee).