The Komets showed off their fight Sunday. But fight hasn't been their problem. Consistency has been.
We're 37 games into the 72-game regular season, and Fort Wayne has only put together win streaks of three or more games twice: three straight over Kalamazoo from Nov. 8 to 15; and a six-game streak from Nov. 23 to Dec. 6.
On Sunday, the Komets lost 4-2 to the Idaho Steelheads. It came on the heels of one of Fort Wayne's best performances of the season.
There was a solid third period for the Komets, sparked by a fracas that saw Shawn Szydlowski and Kyle Haas fight Nolan Gluchowski and Kyle Schempp, respectively. Shortly thereafter, a backhand pass through the crease by Brady Shaw set up Brett McKenzie for a goal – the only goal of the period.
“We're a resilient group, a pretty proud group, and we wanted to make sure we battled all the way to the end,” Komets coach Ben Boudreau said. “It was pretty evident that we care out there. ... You try to take a positive out of every negative right now. The positive is a lot of the guys rallied. There was no quit out there.
“I love what Haas and Szyd did right there. It shows they care that they were willing to put their faces on the line. That team was hooting and hollering, and I thought they got what they deserved. Next time, they'll know to keep their mouths shut and to win with pride.”
The Steelheads, who defeated the Komets 3-2 on Friday, had been able to rest in Fort Wayne on Saturday. Meanwhile, the Komets bused five hours to and from Wheeling, West Virginia, where they beat the Nailers 6-1.
Beleaguered, injured and battling illnesses, the Komets were without captain A.J. Jenks, all-star Shawn St-Amant, Taylor Ross, Brycen Martin, Chase Stewart, Brad Morrison and Matthew Boudens, and played one man short of a full 18-player lineup
“Guys have got splints. Guys are coughing things up. Our goalies are throwing things up. It's unbelievable right now,” said Boudreau, adding more than half the players in the lineup were sick or injured.
One of the ill players, goalie Dylan Ferguson, couldn't continue after the first period with the Komets down 2-0. Ferguson stopped 8 of 10 shots, allowing goals on consecutive shots to Zack Andrusiak and Brett Supinski.
“I thought our mindset was pretty good,” Boudreau said. “The first two goals against came right off our sticks, as far as turnovers in our own zone. No schedule or no sickness are to blame for that.”
Cole Kehler stopped 19 of 21 shots in relief. Idaho's Tomas Sholl stopped 32 of 34.
Fort Wayne's Jermaine Loewen scored 6:54 into the second period off the rebound of a Szydlowski shot. The Steelheads (22-12-5) regained the two-goal lead with a power-play goal at 11:47 from Max Coatta. Shortly after fighting Szydlowski, Idaho's Ondrej Vala made it 4-1 with a shot from the left circle at 16:52.
The Komets (18-14-5) are in a 3-7-3 slump.
“I think we've got some competitive guys who hate losing,” Szydlowski said. “That can ruin a night, ruin a weekend. It's tough right now (with health), but we've got to battle through it. We've got a lot of guys in this locker room and no one doubts what we can do, everyone believes what we can do, and we're looking forward to getting some bodies back in the lineup and get back to the way we started off the season.”