In the wake of the Komets’ 5-4 victory tonight over the Wheeling Nailers, there’s much to cover. Let’s start with the Alan Lyszczarczyk winning goal, which began with a Cole Kehler save on Marc-Olivier Duquette, then had a great Brady Shaw pass along the boards to Lyszczarczyk, who faked the goalie to the ice and snapped the puck high.
“It was a very good pass from Shawsy,” said Lyszczarczyk, a rookie. “I just got the guys behind me, made this move, and it’s something I work on in practice always.”
Lyszczarczyk has eight goals and 15 points in 14 games.
-- A.J. Jenks coming back from a three-game absence with an injury was no small thing. Coach Ben Boudreau said: “He wanted to come back. He wasn’t entirely ready to come back, but his presence in that locker room, on the ice, in the faceoff circle, on the power play, it made huge dividends. Hat’s off to a veteran guy understanding when his team needs him. I thought that was absolutely huge for him to play on one leg and help our team get the victory.”
-- Not sure what you make of Cole Kehler from this game. He had the amazing save on Alec Butcher, but it was set up by him being caught a bit out of position. Then, he allowed three goals on four shots in the second period, as the Nailers took a 4-1 lead, though his defense had hung him out to dry. After that, he stopped all 12 shots he faced (and finished with 20), including the save that set up the winning goal. I can tell you this: the feeling among the Komets’ higher-ups is that the goaltending has to get much better from all the goalies here. By the way, Matthew Villalta made his debut in the American Hockey League tonight with the Ontario Reign.
-- The Komets’ victory in overtime was retribution. When the teams met last Sunday in Wheeling, West Virginia, the Komets squandered a 4-1 lead and lost 6-5 in overtime. “It’s unbelievable how these storylines write themselves,” Boudreau said. “I think it was really important for our group to be determined and come back. Nobody wants to sit there and sulk. We found a way to the job done. We stayed with the program and got the gutsy win.”
-- The Komets’ top-ranked offense is really good. And you could really see it when they scored twice with delayed penalties – Lyszczarczyk and Brycen Martin scored, the latter coming after Fort Wayne held the puck for about 20 seconds in the offensive zone – but the defense just has to get better if this team is going to go anywhere this season. Turnovers lead to so many opposition goals, it’s crazy. “We’ve given up 21 goals in the last four games and these are the growing pains that we’re going to have to go through,” Boudreau said. “For us, it’s the end goal. We’re not going to be perfect to come out at the start. Those veteran teams, they know what they’re doing at the start, but we’re grinding and finding ways to win. We’re finding ways also to lose. We’ve got to find the line of what works and what doesn’t. I really think tonight we started to see that.”
-- Praise for Taylor Ross: “He was laying out for a huge blocked shot as a 10th forward tonight. He won’t show up in the scoresheet, but as a rookie finding a way to make an impact – that’s huge for us. He understands it’s not just about the offense. So, to see the buy-in collectively from the young guys is great. And (Brad) Morrison had a spectacular game moving his feet and competing. The young guys really drove the bus tonight, I thought.”