Komets defenseman Bryant Molle summed up the feeling in the locker room Sunday night, after a 3-2 loss to the Wichita Thunder in an overtime shootout.
"This was a game we really wanted as a team. It was a big test for us," he said. "Playing against these other top teams, these are teams we're going to have to beat down the stretch and in the playoffs in order to win. It's definitely disappointing, no matter how we ended up losing. It's just a game we really needed to win."
The Komets did pull into a tie with Evansville for first place in the CHL's Turner Conference, which seemed an unlikely prospect when Fort Wayne was seven points back a week ago.
The Komets have gone 6-1-3 in their last 10 games, capitalizing on the implosion of the IceMen, who have lost four in a row.
After goals by forwards Bobby Chaumont and Jean-Michel Rizk in the first period, the Komets seemed poised to get the last laugh on Thunder goaltender Adam Russo, who had been engaged in a war of words with Fort Wayne fans on Twitter since criticizing Komets goalie Nick Boucher for his part in a brawl with Bloomington on Feb. 17.
Russo made 33 saves, including a second-period penalty shot by Rizk and five overtime shots, and he then stopped 2 of 3 Komets in the shootout. Defenseman Frankie DeAngelis was the only Fort Wayne player to score in the shootout against the Berry Conference-leading Thunder.
Russo tweeted some nice things after the game: Click here.
Boucher had 27 saves, giving up regulation goals to defenseman Kevin Seibel (50-footer) and forward Dustin Donaghy (breakaway), then getting foiled by all three opponents in the shootout – Matt Robinson, Thomas Beauregard and Matt Summers.
While Fort Wayne has been adept at winning games in overtime – it is 4-0 – it isn't as good when it goes to shootouts. Fort Wayne is 2-4 in shootouts and has scored on only 10 of 39 attempts, though DeAngelis is 3 for 3. Opponents have scored on 13 of 36 attempts.