KALAMAZOO, Mich. – The Komets captured a 5-2 victory today over the Kalamazoo Wings at Wings Event Center that brought to a close a stretch of 14-straight games against divisional opponents.
The Komets fared well during the 31-day run, compiling a 9-4-1 record.
That includes victories in the last five games.
“I’m extremely happy right now,” coach Ben Boudreau said. “We’re at the top of the division (with Cincinnati) and we’re looking down at a lot of teams. That’s exactly where we wanted to be after 21 games. Now we get a six-day rest and get to kind of mange some of those bumps and bruises. … I think we really figured it out that Thanksgiving game (with a 3-0 victory over Wheeling). We gave up a lot of shots today but we didn’t give up a lot of quality scoring chances.”
(Video highlights are above.)
There were reasons to be concerned coming into this one in front of 2,355 fans, including a couple hundred fans who made the trip from Fort Wayne, as the Komets were skating their fourth game in five days in three cities, and using goaltender Patrick Munson for the first time.
But Munson was terrific with 37 saves, including a breathtaking glove save on Kyle Blaney while falling to the ice in the first period, and a stop of Zach Frye from point-blank range early in the third.
“It’s always nice when your team can score five goals for you any given night,” Munson said. “We just kept it really simple. We knew that team was really aggressive and we just used our skill, used our brains, kept it really simple and took advantage of our chances.”
Matthew Boudens, who returned from Chicago of the higher-level American Hockey League with Jermaine Loewen before the game, had two goals, including a late empty-netter, for Fort Wayne.
The Komets lost A.J. Jenks and Brad Morrison, who also scored, to injuries in the game.
The Komets (13-6-2 overall) improved to 5-1-0 against the Wings (6-10-2) this season.
Kalamazoo’s goalie, Jake Kielly, stopped 30 of 34 shots.
“The D has been doing great,” Munson said. “We’ve been doing a good job of keeping them to the outside and clearing rebounds, which makes our jobs (as goalies) so much easier.”
Morrison, who had scored the overtime winner in Saturday’s 3-2 victory over the Cincinnati Cyclones at Memorial Coliseum, opened the scoring 8:33 into the first period. Positioned in the corner, Morrison shot the puck off Kielly’s back and into the net.
Alan Lyszczarczyk made it 2-0 during a power play at 10:43, getting to the rebound of a Shawn Szydlowski shot and sliding it underneath defenseman Aaron Thow and into an open net.
The Wings answered with a Zach Diamantoni one-timer in front at 14:47, which set off the annual Teddy Bear toss – 1,578 stuffed animals were thrown onto the ice by fans and they’ll go to Bronson Children’s Hospital.
It took the Komets only 20 seconds to respond; Boudens got to a loose puck 15 feet from the net and snapped it by Kielly for a 3-1 lead.
The Komets’ lead went to 4-1 when Brady Shaw got to the rebound of a Brett McKenzie shot and flicked it high on Kielly 15:00 into the second period. But Blaney answered at 16:54 by slipping the puck between Munson’s legs.
An empty-net goal by Boudens, with his team killing a penalty, made it 5-2 at 16:50.
Notes: On Saturday, the Komets wore “Star Wars” theme jerseys and changed out of them after the first period because the white was conflicting with Cincinnati’s white jerseys. While the Komets’ front office had said the change was prompted by the officials, the ECHL denied this Sunday and a Komets official concurred that the decision was made in the Fort Wayne locker room. … The referee Sunday was Brett Roeland. … The Komets played without Shaquille Merasty, Brad Ross, Taylor Ross, Chase Stewart and Will Petschenig.