FORT WAYNE – The Komets beat themselves as much as Tulsa beat them Saturday night.
Fort Wayne, which came into the game with the second-best power-play efficiency in the CHL (22.6 percent), went 0 for 7 with the man advantage and lost 2-1 to the Oilers.
Even worse, Marty Standish scored the game winner with his team short-handed in the first period.
(Our power play struggles) took away momentum from us, No. 1. And it cost us the winning goal, No. 2, Komets coach Al Sims said. The guys out there, including Frankie DeAngelis, Jamie Milam and Colin Chaulk, they have to take responsibility. They didn’t get the job done tonight. They just ran at them. And they couldn’t handle pressure. They’re three of our best players and our most skilled players, and they’ve got to get the job done in that situation.
DeAngelis scored Fort Wayne’s goal 9:15 into the third period, after Stephon Thorne set him up from behind the net. Oilers goalie Ian Keserich, who stopped breakaways from Thorne and Bobby Chaumont, buckled down to finish with 34 saves.
Fort Wayne’s Gerry Festa stopped 19 shots and gave up a goal to forward Mike Ullrich, who steered around Milam and David Starenky before scoring with a backhand 11:10 into the first period.
We didn’t get off the start we wanted to, Komets forward Leo Thomas said. But we outshot them and got some good chances. The puck just wasn’t going in. Festa stood on his head for us. It was just one of those games where we got down real quick and couldn’t get back into it.
The Komets (23-12-2) remain atop the Turner Conference even though Fort Wayne has lost four of five games. The only victory in that stretch was a 3-2 victory Friday over Tulsa (18-15-3) in their first ever meeting.
The Komets played a fourth game without their leading scorer, Brett Smith, who has a concussion. But that didn’t explain their inability to score on a power play, including one in the final two minutes.
With the guys we have out there, the firepower, it is frustrating (to struggle on the power play), Thomas said. But things like that are going to happen. I think they’re goalie played pretty well, too, and their team does a good job of blocking shots.
The Komets take on the Quad City Mallards (21-15-1) today at Moline, Ill.
Frankie showed the way you’ve got to score against (Keserich); you’ve got to get it up high and under the crossbar, Sims said. We didn’t do that. Everything we shot was down low on him. That’s where he had everything smothered.
Note: Murder charges against former Komets forward Bogdan Rudenko have been dropped, according to the Charlotte Observer. Rudenko, 34, had been charged with killing a friend, Yuriy Kharitonov. Rudenko spent two years in jail.