It seemed, just days ago, the Komets would never put together a great defensive game, let alone two in a row.
But things have quickly changed.
The Komets took a 3-2 overtime victory over the Cincinnati Cyclones on Saturday, after getting their first shutout in 23 months in a 3-0 Thursday victory over the Wheeling Nailers.
“For us, that's the right way to play,” coach Ben Boudreau said. “I think we realized that after the 3-nothing win, that we'll find the offense. But we've just got to be patient. We can't be leaving too early what is right, our structure. We stuck with our structure for 60-plus minutes tonight and found a way to win. I think the light bulb went off Thursday night and it was great to be able to build off that, especially against the division leaders.”
A crowd of 7,911 was on hand for “Star Wars” Night and the Komets donned special Rebel Alliance jerseys that were auctioned off to benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Fort Wayne. However, there was a snafu; the on-ice officials deemed the Komets had to take the jerseys off after the first period because the white backs were too confusing with the Cyclones also wearing white.
Ultimately, the game was decided in overtime when Cincinnati's Justin Baudry was assessed a double-minor penalty for high-sticking Shawn St-Amant, setting up Fort Wayne's Brad Morrison for the decisive power-play goal. Morrison skated out of the corner and flicked a backhand past netminder Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, considered the Buffalo Sabres' goalie of the future, who had 34 saves.
Fort Wayne's Cole Kehler stopped 22 shots, after he had the 20-save shutout on Thanksgiving.
The Komets (12-6-2) came into the night with the ECHL's second-ranked offense (4.26 goals per game) and No. 21 defense (3.79 goals against), but the defense is on the upswing heading into today's game at Kalamazoo, Michigan.
“It's something, definitely, that we've been working on,” Morrison said. “We're a high-flying team here and we realize that. But we know, at times, we have to stay back and play safe in our own end, take defense seriously. If we continue to do that, like we did tonight, things will be positive going forward for the team.”
Fort Wayne has gone to overtime in four of its last six games, winning three of them. “I love (overtime), especially when you're winning,” Boudreau said.
“I was really happy for Brad Morrison. He had a huge (shot) block as a skill guy (Thursday). Offense is expected from him and the fact that he was laying out to preserve a shutout last game, and then makes a huge impact tonight with the overtime winner when he wasn't getting a regular shift, it's great. Everybody is contributing.”
Also scoring for the Komets were Brady Shaw and newly signed Shaquille Merasty, who redirected a Markus Phillips shot. Cincinnati (13-5-2) got goals from Jesse Schultz and Justin Vaive.
Notes: It was the first game back at the Coliseum for Cincinnati defenseman Cody Sol, who had spent the past five seasons with the Komets. ... The Komets acquired defenseman Taylor Doherty, 6-foot-7, from the Orlando Solar Bears for future considerations. ... Matthew Boudens was recalled by Chicago of the American Hockey League.
Komets at Kalamazoo
When: 3 p.m. today
Where: Wings Event Center, Kalamazoo, Mich.
Radio: 1190 AM, 107.5 FM