KALAMAZOO – The Komets aren’t worried about their offense anymore, not after netting 10 goals in two games within 20 1/2 hours on the road, capped by a 6-5 victory over the Kalamazoo Wings on Saturday afternoon.
“We’re really clicking,” forward Josh Brittain said. “We’ve got a couple new guys in the lineup, and it’s really working out right now.”
The newest player, right wing Thomas Beauregard, had a hat trick in front of 1,969 fans, including about 300 from Fort Wayne, at Wings Stadium. This a few hours after netting a goal in his Komets debut, a 4-3 victory at Toledo on Friday.
“He’s a great teammate,” Brittain said. “He’s a skilled player with a lot of poise. He’s got a great shot, obviously. He ripped two by the other goalie and then had one into an empty net for the hat trick, so you can’t say enough about him. We’re glad to have him.”
For Beauregard, who faced the Komets in the CHL finals last season with Wichita, his early surge with the Komets has been redemptive. He was traded from Orlando to San Francisco before the season began. He was cut by the Bulls after only five games and signed by Fort Wayne, which needed a replacement for Chris Auger, who suffered season-ending knee injuries Oct. 20.
“This feels good. Especially sitting there, after being released, this was a good weekend to experience,” said Beauregard, the brother of former Komets star David Beauregard. “I’m still getting back into game shape. I was sitting at home for a week and waiting for a phone call. I had a good week of practice, but I’m still not there yet, and I’m glad everything went well.”
The Komets (5-2-1) are on their first three-game winning streak in the ECHL.
After playing sloppy in the first 19 minutes, they scored five consecutive goals in the span of 16 shots to take a 5-1 lead. Along with two from Beauregard in the surge, they got goals from forwards Jean-Michel Rizk and Brittain, and defenseman Daniel Maggio scored from the right circle.
The Wings (5-4-0) fought back with goals from left wing Darren Archibald – after Daniel Nycholat coughed up the puck in front of his own net with the Komets short-handed – and then right wing Dustin Cloutier and defenseman Adam Polasek. Wings goalie Joe Cannata (2-1-0) stopped 30 of 35 shots.
Beauregard’s empty-netter made it 6-4, and the Wings got a one-timer goal from the slot by forward Nick Sirota with five seconds remaining to end the scoring.
Fort Wayne goalie Marco Cousineau stopped 33 of 37 shots but left with 6:50 left because of a groin injury that coach Al Sims fears is serious. Charlie Effinger (3-1-0) stopped 3 of 4 shots.
If the Komets don’t get goalie Kenny Reiter back from Bridgeport of the American Hockey League before Wednesday morning’s game at Toledo, they plan to call up Gerry Festa from Dayton of the Federal Hockey League. He was 2-1-0 with a 2.34 goals-against average and a .943 save percentage heading into Saturday night.
The Komets averaged only 2.17 goals per game before this weekend.
“This was an ugly game,” Sims said. “A 3 o’clock start, less than 24 hours after they lost and we won. But we had a great second period with the four goals, … and you can’t say enough about what Beauregard has brought to our team. All of a sudden, we are getting four or five goals a game, and he’s made a big difference.”