The Komets’ lineup Sunday, in the second of their two exhibition games with the Evansville IceMen, was a much closer representation to the lineup we will see in Friday’s season opener against the Kalamazoo Wings.
With the 2-1 overtime victory a better outcome than the night before, when the Komets lost 6-3 at Memorial Coliseum, Fort Wayne is feeling confident heading into its first ECHL season.
I liked the way our team competed, Komets coach Al Sims said. We played more our style of game. That’s puck possession in the offensive zone. I thought, especially in the second period, we had it pinned in there good and we made it easier on our goaltenders.
Rookie defenseman Daniel Maggio, who was with Fort Wayne in the playoffs last spring, netted the winning goal in overtime, during a power play.
It felt good to get the winner. I had a nice wrist shot on net and I had a nice screen in front and it felt good to win the game, for sure, Maggio said.
But the real standout was goalie Francois Lacerte, who stopped all 11 shots he faced in 1 1/2 periods – the final one on a penalty shot by Josh Beaulieu.
Unfortunately for Lacerte, with Charlie Effinger and Kenny Reiter slated to be the Komets’ goalies, his chances of making the team are miniscule. The same goes for Larkin Saalfrank, the Fort Wayne native, who stopped 8 of 9 shots.
I thought Larkin played great for a kid who’s playing college hockey at IPFW. He did very well and looked poised in there, Sims said. And Frankie Lacerte made a couple of saves that we thought were in the net, but somehow he got a piece of them.
It was a better ending than beginning to the day for Lacerte, who was fined an undisclosed amount by the ECHL for his actions in a fight Friday. In that game, after the puck sailed in the air, Aaron McGill began walloping Lacerte, who then caught McGill with his blocker in the scrum.
McGill was at the center of things again, Sunday, after he got a major penalty for crushing Scott Kishel from behind. Jeremy Gates then rushed in to fight McGill. There were two fights Sunday, seven in the two games.
There aren’t many roster spots up for grabs, after Fort Wayne released 10 players. One of them was unexpected – center Jean-Philipp Chabot – who had 22 goals last season with Arizona of the CHL and was expected to be a second-line player.
I don’t want to get into that, said general manager David Franke, though the feeling in the locker room was the decision may have been based on a lack of speed heading into the faster ECHL.
The Komets also let go of forwards John Dunbar, Matt Atsoff, Patrick Knowlton, Cory Park, Seth Ronsberg, Brayden Metz and Mike Hoban, along with defensemen Tim Buttery and Ricky Helmbrecht.
The Komets also got a goal Sunday from Matt Firman, while Evansville’s Daniel Tetrault tied it with 3:03 remaining in regulation time.
(Saturday’s game) was really messy and you saw some nerves, center Colin Chaulk said. But today, I thought we controlled most of the play.