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Komets

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Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
Komets forward Brett Smith takes control of the puck in front of the Arizona bench in the first period Friday at the Coliseum.
Komets 5, Arizona 4

Komets take unusual route to win

– In hockey, a “Gordie Howe Hat Trick” consists of a goal, an assist and a fight. But now we’ve got a “Stephon Thorne Hat Trick.”

And it’s much harder to accomplish.

It is – and it has to be in sequential order – a fight, a game misconduct and a goal.

Thorne did that Friday night in the Komets’ 5-4 victory over the Arizona Sundogs in front of 7,493 fans at Memorial Coliseum.

During the first intermission, with the Komets leading 2-1 on goals by Artem Podshendyalov and defenseman Frankie DeAngelis (power play), referee Brent Coulombe realized Thorne – who was ejected for an opening-faceoff fight – should have been given a 10-minute misconduct.

Thorne, who was in the stands, got back into uniform and put Fort Wayne up 4-2 when he banked a shot from behind the goal off goalie Scott Reid and into the net at 15:12.

But Thorne still was trumped by DeAngelis, who had two goals in regulation and the only goal of the overtime shootout.

“Frankie’s a highly skilled defenseman, who’s got a tremendous shot, a very accurate shot,” said coach Al Sims, whose Komets (33-16-3) remain three points back of Evansville for first place in the Turner Conference.

“If he gets in there with any time, nine times out of 10, it’s finding the back of the net, even if the goalie can see it. And in the shootout, Frankie knows how to put it between a goalie’s legs every time.”

The Komets played short of a full 18-player lineup for almost all of the last five games, but they should have a full roster tonight at Evansville, since goaltender Nick Boucher completed his four-game suspension for his part in a brawl with Bloomington on Feb. 17.

In Boucher’s absence, Gerry Festa went 3-1-1. He had 31 saves against the league-worst Sundogs (16-28-8).

“You’ve got to give Gerry credit. Any guy who stops all five attempts in a shootout – I haven’t seen that very often – was just fantastic,” Sims said.

Sims acknowledged Festa, who was acquired from Missouri on Jan. 3, deserves more playing time after Boucher, an all-star, played in 40 of the first 48 games.

“Gerry, we certainly don’t want to leave him sitting on the shelf for two weeks. He’s going to play,” Sims said. “Whether they go every other game, back and forth, whatever, Gerry’s going to play games. We’ve got confidence in him now. … He’s doing the job he needs to do, and this gave him a chance to show us a chance that he can play.”

This was the sixth meeting between Fort Wayne and Arizona over the last two seasons – the Komets are 3-2-1 – and three fights Friday brought the total number of bouts to 12. Thorne and Kevin Petovello fought at the opening faceoff, and Thorne was thrown out for removing his elbow pad before the fight.

“They’re a chippy team,” DeAngelis said. “We’re a team that doesn’t really back down. I think we handled ourselves and that was a factor.”

jcohn@jg.net

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