KALAMAZOO, Mich. – The Komets’ effort Friday was good, and there haven’t been too many games this season in which you could say that.
But, as forward Thomas Beauregard said after a 3-2 loss to the Kalamazoo Wings at Wings Stadium, Yeah, we played hard, but that’s not enough.
The Komets failed to score more than two goals for the 35th time this season, falling to 30-31-3 and dropping 10 points back of Toledo for the eighth and final playoff spot in the ECHL’s Eastern Conference.
It was the Komets’ 11th loss in their last 15 games.
A lot of guys are getting frustrated and it’s getting in our heads, but we’ve just got to keep going for the final eight games. We’ll keep playing hard and see what happens, said Beauregard, who opened the scoring 15:48 into the first period by skating out of the right corner, during a power play, switching to his backhand and lifting the puck just inside the crossbar.
Fort Wayne’s power-play unit, which came into the game as the ECHL’s worst at 12.2 percent, has scored in back-to-back games.
Goaltender Jeff Deslauriers, back from a one-game stint with Anaheim of the NHL, was just as spectacular as before his call-up. He stopped the first 24 shots he faced, including a short-handed breakaway by forward Kory Karlander in the second period. But that was followed, seconds later, by a 2-on-1 rush and a goal from Aaron Clarke.
It took only 1:10 for Fort Wayne to answer. With a huge pileup in front of the Kalamazoo net, and goalie Joel Martin sprawled on the ice, Nick Wheeler fought his way through to swat the puck in for a 2-1 lead at 18:58 of the second period.
Seconds after Deslaurier stopped a short-handed breakaway – one of his 32 saves – the Wings’ Alexandre Grenier tied it during another 2-on-1 rush 1:24 into the third period.
The Komets successfully killed off a five-minute power play – defenseman Scott Kishel got a major penalty for boarding forward Steve Anthony – and Fort Wayne gave up only three shots.
Our team did an unbelievable job on that (power play), but it just killed our best players’ (energy), Fort Wayne coach Al Sims said. And for a (gentlemanly) guy like Kishel to get a major penalty for hitting somebody, you know, you can’t believe the things that happen to us at the worst times. It’s been the story all season and it continued tonight. It was magnified tonight, more than anything.
Just 2:05 after Kishel’s penalty expired, Kalamazoo (32-26-5) left wing Alexandre Mallett sent a pass out from behind the Fort Wayne net and Clarke blasted it home for a 3-2 Wings lead.
Effort isn’t enough, Beauregard said. You’ve got to score goals. We missed on too many chances. Deslauriers played unbelievably and gave us a chance to win, but we just couldn’t score. Guys need to score – that’s the bottom line.
Martin stopped 34 shots, as the Komets dropped to 7-6-1 against the Wings.
It’s been the same story all season long: Great chances, no finish, Sims said. Brandon Marino is third in scoring in the league and had two breakaways but no finish. He didn’t get a shot on goal on the first one and this is our story. Look at all the opportunities that we missed.
Notes: The Komets’ longtime videographer, Shane Albrahani, broadcast the game with Bob Chase on WOWO. It’s unknown if Chase, in his 60th consecutive season, will be back for all games next season. Albrahani declined to comment on whether he’s being groomed as a replacement, but he will do more games this season. Lineman Brad Phillips called his 999th ECHL game. He’ll retire after his 1,000th tonight in Toledo.