FORT WAYNE – On a night the fans at Memorial Coliseum spent so much time griping about the officiating of Andy Thackaberry, it was Evansville goaltender Paul Karpowich who almost blocked a victory for the Komets.
Karpowich stopped no fewer than eight shots from with 15 feet in the final 5 minutes of regulation and overtime – his glove save against Brandon Marino was particularly special – but the Komets got the last laugh.
Center Colin Chaulks goal in the fourth round of an overtime shootout gave Fort Wayne a 4-3 victory in front of 7,861 fans at Memorial Coliseum.
The Komets outscored the IceMen 3-2 in the shootout, and goalie Marco Cousineau stopped Brett Sonne on the final shot to cement the win.
I thought the last two games were probably the best games weve played this year, said coach Al Sims, whose team lost 1-0 in a shootout Friday in Kalamazoo, Mich. It was great to get a win tonight. We didnt want to see a point slip away to a team in our division.
It was hard to tell who was hated more by the Komets fans – Thackaberry or the IceMen, who joined Fort Wayne on its move from the CHL.
Thackaberry awarded 9 of 12 power plays to the IceMen.
Ironically, it was one of the calls that Thackaberry didnt make that set up Fort Wayne for its victory.
Forward Josh Brittain, who had just forced a turnover, was taken down as he attacked the Evansville net.
As the fans clamored for a penalty, Brittain netted a shot from the slot at 11:37 of the third period. Unfortunately for the Komets, Patrick Kennedy answered.
But the Komets offense was now rolling, and they outshot the IceMen 37-24, peppering Karpowich late in the game.
I think its great to have tough games. It makes your team reach down, Sims said.
However, forward Chris Auger, who had 28 goals last season, was injured on a huge open-ice hit by Evansvilles Aaron Gems in the first period.
The preliminary diagnosis is Chris Auger has a strained (medial collateral ligament in his knee), general manager David Franke said.
With Auger out, the physical play intensified. With the game tied at one in the second period – Brett Smith had scored for Fort Wayne, Tyler Shattock for Evansville – there was a melee incited by a hit from the Komets Nick Schaus on Shattock.
In the fray, Smith instigated a fight with Dale Mahovsky, and that set up a power-play goal for center Brett Sonne, giving Evansville a 2-1 lead. Eric Giosa tied it at 2.
Fort Wayne also got shootout goals from Brittain and Jean-Michel Rizk.