FORT WAYNE – With the caveat that almost none of the players on the ice for the Komets on Saturday night will be here come the regular season, Fort Wayne lost 6-3 to the Evansville IceMen in an exhibition game at Memorial Coliseum.
But there was something about the Komets that stood out in front of roughly 2,000 fans: the Komets’ toughness.
There were five fights including a wild one in which Evansville center Aaron McGill instigated a fight with Komets goaltender Francois Lacerte.
The other fights in the second period saw Jean-Philipp Chabot take on Daniel Moriarty, Nicolas Thommen vs. Mark Cody, Matt Atsoff brawl with Tommy Lange and, in the third period, Chabot took on Sam Cannata.
While Chabot is expected to make the team and help police the ice with Brent Henley, Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock and Tyler Butler, some other players may have proved their worth with their fists.
I think we’re fine with our toughness, and it’s really good to see the guys standing up for themselves. It’s impressive to see them doing that, said Komets general manager David Franke, whose team plays the IceMen again tonight at the Coliseum.
The regular season opens Friday against the Kalamazoo Wings at the Coliseum, and by then about 16 of the 36 players in camp will have been cut.
Before the game, the American Hockey League’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers assigned goaltender Kenny Reiter to the Komets. He and Charlie Effinger, who was released by Grand Rapids of the AHL on Friday, are expected to be Fort Wayne’s goaltending tandem when the regular season begins Friday at the Coliseum against Kalamazoo.
However, playing goal Saturday were Gerry Festa, who got the start, and Lacerte, who got a game misconduct after his fight in the final minute of the second period. McGill was also tossed as the aggressor.
I’m not surprised we saw this, Franke said. Guys want to stand out in any way they can.
Fort Wayne’s goals were scored by Cory Park, Kyle Atkins (power play) and Linus Werneman (power play). Evansville got goals from McGill, Domenic Recchia and two apiece from Lange and Dylan Gilbert.
Festa stopped 11 of 16 shots. Lacerte stopped 6 of 7.
I thought it was great to see (our toughness), Fort Wayne coach Al Sims said. Thommen, just a young kid still in juniors, I thought he did well against Cody. And there was Atsoff and four or five other guys who stepped up and went at them. It was good to see.