This is a crucial weekend for the Komets, who could have bolstered their position in the divisional race.
So far, it hasn’t gone very well.
They lost 6-3 tonight to the Tulsa Oilers at Memorial Coliseum, on the heels of a 5-4 road loss to the Kalamazoo Wings on Friday.
Fort Wayne, which went into Friday in third place in the division, is now in fourth place and three points back of the Indy Fuel, which beat Kalamazoo 4-2 tonight. The top four teams will make the postseason and the Komets have 25 games remaining in the regular season.
The Komets face the Fuel at 3 p.m. Sunday at Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis.
A larger-than-capacity crowd of 10,567 was announced for today’s Wizarding World Night, otherwise known as the Komets’ second annual Harry Potter Night. It was also Report Card Night, meaning kids with ‘A’ or equivalent grades got free tickets.
Adam Pleskach had a hat trick and Robby Jackson scored twice for the Oilers (22-23-6). Fort Wayne (21-18-8) is 4-6-3 in its last 13 games and has lost three in a row.
The Komets’ Anthony Petruzzelli got stopped on two attempts from point-blank range by Oilers goalie Olle Erickson Ek 4:33 into the first period. After a stoppage, Tulsa’s Jackson slipped behind defenseman Chaz Reddekopp and put a move on goalie Patrick Munson to make it 1-0 on the Oilers’ second shot of the game.
Fort Wayne’s Gage Torrel almost tied it at 13:23 with a redirection from 15 feet out that Erickson Ek kicked away. Munson matched him by stopping a Jackson shot from 12-feet out at 17:52.
A turnover at the offensive blue line by the Komets set up Pleskach, who leads the ECHL in shots on goal (198) for a goal and a 2-0 lead at the end of a 2-on-1 rush at 2:51 of the second period.
The Komets solved Erickson Ek at 8:43, when a Brett McKenzie drop pass led to a Shawn Szydlowski drop pass to set up Drake Rymsha for a goal from 30 feet out while he was falling to his knees.
Though Munson did his best to preserve the score, stopping shots by Deven Sideroff and Mike Liberati from just outside the crease, Sideroff snuck the third attempt just over the goal line for a 3-1 lead at 18:53.
The Oilers’ Jackson cemented the victory by scoring off a rebound at 6:12 of the third period to make it 4-1. And Pleskach made it 5-1 after Fort Wayne’s Taylor Doherty coughed up the puck behind his own net.
McKenzie scored for the Komets at 11:36, after he stole the puck from the Oilers just after a faceoff, and Doherty atoned for his turnover by scoring on a slapshot from the right circle at 12:57.
But Pleskach answered with a power-play goal at 16:18 to make it 6-3.
Munson stopped 28 shots. Erickson Ek stopped 37.
Notes: The referee was Kyle Lekun. … The Komets played without forwards Brady Shaw (head), Shawn St-Amant (upper body) and Brad Morrison (leg); defensemen Chase Stewart (ECHL suspension), Kyle Haas (suspension) and Jason Binkley (healthy); and goalie Dylan Ferguson (illness). … McKenzie, whose wrist was cut by teammate Alan Lyszczarczyk’s skate blade at Jacksonville, Florida, on Jan. 31, returned to the lineup after missing one game and a week of practice.