The Komets may have found the recipe to success this week: Crash the net, get some big hits, fight and ride good goaltending.
Tonight, the Komets got two goals from Shawn St-Amant and one apiece from Mason Bergh, Jermaine Loewen and Taylor Ross; a teeth-chattering hit from Brayden Pachal on Sam Kurker; fights from Bergh and Matthew Boudens; and 29 saves from Matthew Villalta.
All totaled, it was a 5-3 victory over the Indy Fuel, improving Fort Wayne to 5-2-1 – including 3-0-1 in their last four games – even though Fort Wayne has yet to play with the same lineup in back-to-back games because so many players have kept coming in from, or going to, higher levels.
The Komets currently have eight players contracted to either the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, the Los Angeles Kings, or their American Hockey League affiliates.
An announced crowd of 7,992 attended the game at Memorial Coliseum, where the Komets have played seven of their eight games to start the season. The Komets play 5:15 p.m. Sunday – it will be their third game in as many days – against the Toledo Walleye (4-1-1) at the Huntington Center in Toledo, Ohio. The Walleye, which was idle Friday, had its first home game of the season tonight and lost 4-3 in overtime to the Florida Everblades, who scored three unanswered goals.
The Komets came into the night leading the ECHL with 4.57 goals per game, and they opened the scoring when a Shawn St-Amant pass in the neutral zone was tipped by Brady Shaw to Bergh, who broke in alone on the goaltender and snapped it low 8:46 into the first period.
(Video highlights from the game are above.)
Bergh, a rookie, has at least one point in all eight games this season, a goal in 6 of 8 games and is on a five-game goal-scoring streak.
The Fuel’s Alex Krushelnyski tied it at 12:31 at the end of a 2-on-1 rush with Mathew Thompson, who stole the puck at his own blue line and then sent a no-look backhand pass to Krushelnyski.
The Komets regained the lead when Loewen, a Golden Knights prospect and the first Jamaican-born player to be drafted by an NHL team, netted his first professional goal by redirecting a Ross shot.
Twenty seconds later, St-Amant redirected a Brycen Martin shot for a 3-1 lead on just Fort Wayne’s 10th shot on goal.
The Komets took a commanding lead after a wild sequence of events in the second period, when Indy goalie Charles Williams made a flurry of saves, including two while on his stomach, before Ross slipped the puck just inside the right post and barely over the goal line.
Ross netted the winning goal – from beyond the goal line by banking the puck off the netminder – in Friday’s 4-2 victory over Florida that saw Fort Wayne scored four unanswered goals.
Later in the second period today, Boudens fought Thompson and Bergh scrapped with Josh McArdle.
Goals by Thompson and Spencer Watson, both from close range, cut the Fort Wayne lead to one in the third period before St-Amant’s rocket from the top of the right circle, during a power play, made it 5-3 at 17:15.
Williams stopped 22 shots for the Fuel (3-4-0).
Notes: The Komets wore special Military Appreciation jerseys that were auctioned off to benefit Honor Flight, which takes veterans to Washington D.C. to visit memorials. … The referee was Casey Terreri, nephew of former NHL goalie Chris Terreri. … Krushelnyski’s father, Mike, played in the NHL from 1981 to 1995. … The Komets signed Max Strang to be the backup goalie, in the wake of Dylan Ferguson going back to Chicago of the Triple-A American Hockey League. Strang, who was in training camp with the Komets, had been with Evansville of the Single-A Southern Professional Hockey League. … The Komets also played without Chase Stewart, Brett McKenzie, Brad Morrison, Matt Brassard, Kyle Haas, Will Petschenig and Brad Ross.