If this was an early litmus test for the new-look Komets, they still need some work.
They twice squandered early leads and gave up three consecutive second-period goals to the rival Toledo Walleye, which won 5-3 tonight.
(Video highlights are above.)
A crowd of 8,270 was on hand at Memorial Coliseum to witness A.J. Jenks’ first game against his former team, Toledo (2-0-0), which ousted Fort Wayne (2-1-0) from the first round of the playoffs and lost in the Kelly Cup finals to the Newfoundland Growlers last season.
Jenks assisted on a goal and had five shots tonight.
As has been the case in each of their first three games, the Komets netted an early goal. It took only 1:02 before Brady Shaw took advantage of a Shawn St-Amant pick to speed around the defense, pull goaltender Pat Nagle out of position and flick the puck into an open net.
In the 5-2 victory over the Kalamazoo Wings on Oct. 12, the Komets’ Brycen Martin scored 18 seconds into the first period. In Friday’s 7-3 victory over the Wheeling Nailers, Brady Shaw scored 51 seconds into the game.
As was the case with Martin’s goal, Shaw’s Saturday goal came on the game’s first shot. But Toledo answered on its first shot, a Brenden Kotyk snap from the top of the right circle.
Fort Wayne netted its second goal on just its fourth shot; Mason Bergh’s cross-ice pass set up Shawn Szydlowski for a rocket from the left circle that eluded Nagle during a Fort Wayne power play. Szydlowski had sat out the third period Friday because he was feeling the aftereffects of a pregame car accident.
The Walleye’s offense was shut down early in the second period, not getting a shot on goal until 7:21 when Alec McCrea fired a 30-footer into goalie Cole Kehler. Alex Kromm got to the rebound and fired it into an open net, tying the game at 2.
Toledo handed Fort Wayne its first deficit of the season at 12:10, when Mark Auk’s crossing pass set up Shane Berschbach for a goal and a 3-2 lead. Toledo’s Abbott Girduckis followed with a power-play goal 1:26 later.
Fort Wayne’s Matthew Boudens cut the deficit to one at 4-3 by spinning and shooting from 35 feet out at 15:15, and an assist was credited to Jenks.
Toledo’s Brandon Troock scored on the rebound of an Auk shot to make it 5-3 during a power play 10:22 into the third period.
Kehler stopped 27 shots. Nagle, a former Fort Wayne netminder, stopped 39.
The Komets are off until the 7:30 p.m. Wednesday game against the Wings in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Notes: The referee was Brett Roeland. … The Komets traded defenseman Eric Israel to the Rapid City Rush for future considerations. Israel hadn’t played in the regular season. In the preseason, he had an assist in two games. … The Komets played without Gage Torrel, Kyle Haas, Matt Brassard, Taylor Ross and Brad Ross. … Former Indiana Tech defenseman Felix Kronwall, who was in training camp with the Komets, scored his first professional goal with Evansville of the Southern Professional Hockey League.