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The Journal Gazette

  • Rachel Von Stroup | The Journal Gazette The Komets' Olivier Galipeau looks for an opening past Everblades players during the first period at Memorial Coliseum on Friday night.

  • Rachel Von Stroup | The Journal Gazette The Komets' Mason Bergh hits the puck towards the goal during the first period against the Everblades at Memorial Coliseum on Friday night.

  • Rachel Von Stroup | The Journal Gazette The Komets' Mason Bergh skates with the puck during the first period against the Everblades at Memorial Coliseum on Friday night.

  • Rachel Von Stroup | The Journal Gazette The Komets' Olivier Galipeau hits the puck past Everblades' Patrick McCarron during the first period at Memorial Coliseum on Friday night.

  • Rachel Von Stroup | The Journal Gazette Fort Wayne’s Brady Shaw, left, and the Everblades’ John McCarron watch the puck in the first period at Memorial Coliseum on Friday.

Friday, November 01, 2019 11:50 pm

'Old-school Komet hockey' in win

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

Komets coach Ben Boudreau has an appreciation for the 68-year history of the franchise. Tonight, he believes he saw some old-school Komets hockey in a 4-2 victory over the Florida Everblades.

Namely, two second-period fights and three goals from close range made him happy.

“I think the honor to play in front of Fort Wayne fans was really there tonight,” Boudreau said. “It really showed up in the second half. We had a stinker of a first period and, out of pride, we went out and played old-school Komet hockey. We got into scrums, we fought, we got to the net. You could see where all the goals came from – they were all from in tight of the net – and I think the buy-in was there.”

Dylan Ferguson, who kept his team in it early and stopped 26 shots, is now headed back to the American Hockey League’s Chicago Wolves.

The Komets (4-2-1) are getting used to this. With Ferguson’s departure, the Komets still have eight players contracted to teams in the NHL or AHL, perhaps a big reason for their inconsistencies.

Tonight, they went from looking terrible in the first period to unbeatable in the third. They scored four unanswered goals for the victory over Florida (4-3-0).

“The first period, we looked like a team that has changed its lineup seven straight games because we have,” Boudreau said. “When you’ve got two affiliates, you’ve got a mandate that when they send players down they’re in the lineup. … But these guys did so many good things away from the puck that it was a complete and total team effort tonight. I thought it was our best overall game, even if it took us a bit to get going.”

Before the game, the Komets received Brayden Pachal, a defenseman, and Jermaine Loewen, a forward, from the Vegas Golden Knights. Loewen is the first Jamaican-born player to be drafted by an NHL team. The Komets also have Brad Morrison (injured), Stephen Baylis, Markus Phillips, Max Gottlieb, Mason Bergh and goalie Matthew Villalta from the Los Angeles Kings/Ontario Reign.

With all the personnel movement, Taylor Ross hasn’t gotten a ton of playing time. He was rewarded for his patience tonight and the Komets were rewarded with his winning goal. He got to the rebound of a Brady Shaw shot and, from a difficult angle, banked a forehand off the goalie and into the net to make it 3-2 at 14:22 of the third period.

“I got a lucky bounce, got it right on the goal line and, on the other side, I got a little lucky,” Ross said. “I banked it in and it went well, so I’m pretty happy about it.”

Ross, who had 34 goals and 69 points in 68 games last season for the Western Hockey League’s Lethbridge Hurricanes, said he’s tried to stay even keel early this season with little playing time: “You can’t control it, so you just put your head down every day and work as hard as you can. I got my opportunity and made the most of it.”

After Ross’ goal, Bergh, who has a point in all seven games, added an empty-netter.

“I just gave (Ross) the game puck because this guy hasn’t said a peep. He’s been in and out of the lineup,” Boudreau said. “The kid had (almost) 70 points last season and is a great hockey player, but we’ve got an abundance of great hockey players. It was something where (Anthony Petruzzelli) got called up (to Chicago) and Morrison got put on the IR, so it was a next-man-up mentality.

“It’s three straight games that (Ross) has found opportunities all over the net and this one went in for him at a big time in his career. No better time than this to get his first career pro goal, and I was really happy with him in all three zones.”

The Komets also got goals from Shaw off a rebound and A.J. Jenks off a redirection.

Florida’s Cam Johnson made 36 saves.

Fort Wayne's victory may not have happened without the energy from Matthew Boudens fighting Michael Downing and Brett McKenzie fighting Ben Massella, in front of 7,686 fans during the second period.

“It was the turning point of the game, honestly,” Ross said. “I thought we were a little slow coming out of the gate and those two fights really got us going.”

The Komets play host to the Indy Fuel 7:30 p.m. Saturday and play at Toledo, Ohio, 5:15 p.m. Sunday, and they certainly don’t want the sloppy start they had tonight. The Komets have allowed the first goal in back-to-back games after scoring first in the opening five games of the season.

“This is still a team that we feel is coming together,” Boudreau said. “Seven straight games with different lineups, I don’t want to make any changes for tomorrow. I’ll find out what the injury status is with everybody. At the same time, we’ve got to keep finding a way.”

The Komets will again wear their Military Appreciation jerseys Saturday and they'll be auctioned off during the game to benefit Honor Flight.

jcohn@jg.net