FORT WAYNE – The Komets’ fans showed up in droves – there were 9,919 at Memorial Coliseum on Saturday – to see the finale of the Komets’ inaugural season in the ECHL.
And this game was what the fans had been craving – a 4-2 victory over rival Kalamazoo, which included three fights and Wings blood staining the ice.
Thomas Beauregard scored twice, including the third-period game-winner, as Fort Wayne snapped its five-game losing streak to finish at 33-35-4.
The postgame awards ceremony – during which leading scorer Brandon Marino (20 goals, 74 points) was named MVP by his teammates – was the last chance to see some favorite players as management has promised an overhaul this summer.
We’re not making any rash decisions one day after the season ends, general manager David Franke. We’re going to deliberate a lot, and we’re going to think about it. We need to make sure that a season like this doesn’t occur for a long time.
This season has been disappointing and frustrating, but it is what it is, and we need to move forward and get to where we need to be in the ECHL.
The Komets finished below .500 for the first time since 1996-97, which was also the last time they fired a coach (Dave Farrish for John Torchetti). The Komets missed the playoffs for the first time since 2002, when they kept coach Greg Puhalski and won a championship the next year.
Coach Al Sims, who has won five championships with the Komets, is on the hot seat. So, too, are many players who were on the ice Saturday – including Marino, alternate captains Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock and Tyler Butler, and the 2010 Playoff MVP from the IHL, Matt Syroczynski.
The Komets have no players signed for next season.
Schrock was the longest-tenured Komet on the ice Saturday. He began the final game of his fourth season by fighting Yann Sauve on the opening faceoff, retribution for the Sauve hit that separated Eric Giosa’s shoulder late in Friday’s 3-2 loss at Wings Stadium.
Later in the period, rookie defenseman Mathieu Gagnon finally found someone to fight – Michael Leone, who was bloodied.
Kalamazoo’s Alexandre Grenier opened the scoring 3:34 into the second period with a shot from 23 feet out. But Fort Wayne’s Thomas Beauregard answered at 7:09 with a shot from the left circle.
Jamie Milam’s power-play goal on a one-timer from the left circle – after the Wings (34-30-8) got penalized for having too many men on the ice – gave Fort Wayne a 2-1 lead at 16:28. The Wings answered 44 seconds later, when Grenier tucked a rebound underneath Jeff Deslauriers.
Schrock was injured, shortly after that, on a hit from Brett Lysak, who checked him into the boards and came down awkwardly on Schrock’s leg. Schrock had to be helped off the ice but returned in the third period.
Beauregard’s goal from the right circle gave the Komets the lead at 11:20 of the third period, after which Garrett Klotz instigated a fight with Grenier. And Syroczynski’s wraparound at 15:37 cemented the win, igniting the Coliseum, where the Komets won only 16 of 36 games.