Even though the Komets bowed out in the first round of the playoffs, there were still a lot of exciting moments. Here are my picks for the top five from the season.
5) Down from the American Hockey League for the first time in three months, Phelix Martineau announced his presence with an overtime game-winning goal at Kalamazoo, Michigan. Skating from deep in his own zone, Martineau circumvented the entire defense by skating to the left dasher boards, toward goalie Ivan Kulbakov and then tucking the puck inside the far post for a 3-2 victory March 8.
4) Making the playoffs was never guaranteed, not until Shawn Szydlowski’s goal during a 5-on-3 power play sent the game with the Indy Fuel on April 5 to overtime. The Komets eventually won 3-2 in a shootout – Ryan Rupert’s cheap shot hit in overtime kept Sean Flanagan out for weeks – but it was Szydlowski’s goal on the road that got the Komets the standings point they needed.
3) Mason Baptista is known as much for his grit as much as his goal-scoring, but few could have pulled off what he did March 9 at Memorial Coliseum by swatting a puck out of mid-air with his forearm, sending it through the legs of arguably the ECHL’s best defenseman, Toledo’s Matt Register, then diving around Register to fire the puck past goalie Kaden Fulcher. It gave Fort Wayne a one-goal lead in a 4-1 victory.
2) Justin Hodgman can do things offensively no one else with the Komets can and we saw it Dec. 27, when he got a pass from Jake Kamrass and skated in on a breakaway against Kalamazoo goalie Jake Hildebrand. Hodgman dropped a no-look pass to Kamrass, who chipped it to the top of the net for a 1-0 lead in what became a 2-1 victory.
1) Zach Fucale’s save Saturday to preserve a one-goal lead in Game 5 at Toledo, Ohio, was the best by a Komets goalie since Kevin St. Pierre’s backward flipping stick save in 2006, which is regarded as one of the sport’s all-time best. Fucale slid to his right, dropped his stick and made a blocker-hand glove save, as the Komets forced the series back to the Coliseum.