The Komets maintained some good habits Friday night: Scoring first, getting a power-play goal and overwhelming an opponent with offense.
The Komets, who came in as the ECHL’s top-scoring team, exceeded their average and defeated the Kalamazoo Wings 7-2 in front of 8,289 fans at Memorial Coliseum.
Fort Wayne, which had been averaging 4.5 goals per game, has now scored the first goal in 8 of 13 games, accruing a 6-2 record in such contests.
It scored on 3 of 7 power plays, making it 11 of 25 in the last four games.
The Komets (8-4-1) have won three in a row, all against the Wings (4-4-2), who lost forward Brennan Sanford to a head injury when he was walloped at the blue line by Chase Stewart in the second period. Sanford, who hit his head on the ice as he fell, was taken to a local hospital but was expected to be back in time to join his teammates for their postgame departure.
Fort Wayne's A.J. Jenks didn't play in the third injury due to an injury.
Goaltender Dylan Ferguson, who had missed the previous two games with a muscle strain, was back in the Fort Wayne lineup and stopped 31 shots. Matthew Villialta was the backup. Despite Ferguson’s return, the Komets opted to keep Patrick Munson and carry three goalies for the time being.
The Komets started strong when Jenks proved the point that if you shoot the puck, good things can happen. Jenks unleashed the game’s first shot from the top of the left circle and got to the rebound in the corner, immediately firing the puck again toward the goal. The puck caromed off the back of goaltender Jake Kielly (27 saves), who managed to swing his arm backward and fling the puck out of the net, but instant replay showed that it had clearly gone over the goal line 33 seconds into the first period.
The Wings’ Zach Diamantoni tied it at the end of a 2-on-1 rush at 6:49.
Fort Wayne regained the lead when Brady Shaw fished the puck out of the corner and sent a pass to Olivier Galipeau at the blue line, where he shot the puck high on Kielly at 15:09.
After Kalamazoo’s Aaron Thow took a delay-of-game penalty for blatantly knocking his own net off its moorings, Shawn St-Amant’s shot from the right circle caromed off the stick of a Kalamazoo player and into the top of the net for a 3-1 Komet lead at 18:47.
Justin Kovacs got Kalamazoo back within a goal when he flicked a rebound past Ferguson 5:26 into the second period, but another Fort Wayne power-play goal saw Shawn Szydlowski’s shot from the point carom off the hand of Brad Ross and into the net for a 4-2 lead at 17:44.
Brett McKenzie, who was held without a goal in his first 10 games with the Komets, scored on a redirection 10:56 into the third period. And 29 seconds later, Alan Lyszczarczyk’s pass set up Brad Morrison, who circumvented the defense and scored for a 6-2 lead at 11:25.
McKenzie scored again on a short-handed breakaway at 15:02.
Notes: Kalamazoo’s Dylan Sadowy saw his goal-scoring streak, which had been at eight games, snapped. It was the longest such streak in the ECHL this season. … Stewart fought Kalamazoo captain Ben Wilson immediately after the hit on Sanford. … The Komets will wear Joker-themed jerseys Saturday at Cincinnati and Sunday at Wheeling, as those teams wear Batman jerseys through the league-wide partnership with DC. The Komets’ DC night at the Coliseum is Jan. 18 and they will wear Batman jerseys against the Toledo Jokers.