The Komets, who struggled to a 4-8-3 record between Dec. 7 and last Sunday, had perhaps become a forgotten team in the difficult Central Division. But they made a big statement this weekend, getting three of a possible four points while playing the first- and second-place squads.
Cole Kehler stopped 42 shots for the Komets on Saturday, though they lost 2-1 after an overtime shootout in front of 9,439 fans at Memorial Coliseum.
The only player who outshined Kehler was Toledo's netminder, Billy Christopoulos, who also stopped 42 shots. In the best-of-3 shootout, Christopoulos foiled A.J. Jenks and Brady Shaw, while Kehler gave up goals to Troy Loggins and Mark Auk.
The Komets (19-14-6) remain winless against the Walleye (21-12-4) this season at 0-4-1. But the Komets got a 4-1 victory Friday in Ohio over the division-leading Cincinnati Cyclones and are two points back of second place.
“That's two great nights for our team,” Kehler said. “We're playing two, tough divisional opponents. Beating Cincinnati in their building, that's a big accomplishment for us as a group. We really won that game as a team. We come out tonight and I thought we were even better. It just didn't go our way. At the end of the day, guys are just going the right things and I think we're feeling pretty good in this room still.”
The Komets, who play their next seven games on the road, are off until Friday when they take on the Indy Fuel.
However, the ECHL All-Star Classic will be Wednesday in Wichita, Kansas. The Komets' all-star representative, forward Shawn St-Amant, will not be able to participate because of an upper-body injury, team president Michael Franke confirmed.
There are no plans to add an alternate Komets player, Franke said, though that could change depending on injuries around the ECHL this weekend. St-Amant, who has 14 goals and 25 points in 22 games, has missed 11 straight games.
“I'm extremely proud of the effort,” Fort Wayne coach Ben Boudreau said. “This group is really coming along. We're learning to defend and are all building each other up. There are a lot of positive signs going forward here.”
While the Komets have been in 11 overtime games, winning five of them, this was their first shootout of the season.
As part of an ECHL partnership with DC Comics, the Komets donned Batman jerseys and Toledo wore Joker uniforms. The Komets' jerseys were auctioned off to benefit the Mad Anthonys Children's Foundation.
Fort Wayne's Drake Rymsha opened the scoring 11:03 into the second period, at the end of a 2-on-1 rush with Anthony Petruzzelli. Loggins tied it for Toledo 6:24 into the third period – Fort Wayne's Taylor Doherty was serving a penalty for boarding – on a backhand shot from short range.
Toledo scored on 1 of 5 power plays. Fort Wayne was 0 for 4, getting denied on a power play late in the third period and another in overtime, after Alan Lyszczarczyk drew a tripping call on T.J. Hensick and a kneeing penalty on Kevin Spinozzi.
“It was a great performance,” Boudreau said. “This weekend, we didn't give up a single even-strength goal. You knew it was going to come down to special teams there with (their) second-ranked power play and (our) third-ranked power play. They got one and we didn't when we had an opportunity. Quite simply, that's just the difference, but it was a great performance by everybody tonight.”