Cole Fraser scored from a difficult angle in the corner with six-tenths of a second remaining to give the Toledo Walleye a 6-5 victory over the Komets in a wild back-and-forth game that saw eight goals and four lead changes in the third period Sunday at Toledo.
Toledo's T.J. Hensick had tied the game with 26 seconds remaining, from almost the same spot as Fraser's shot at the Huntington Center, where a crowd of 5,848 was on hand.
“This is one that really stings because I believe that we should have won,” Komets coach Ben Boudreau said. “It's not one that I think we could have, but one we should have won. To have a lead with under a minute and allow two goals in regulation, it's as tough of a loss as we've suffered here in recent years.”
That's saying a lot because the Komets have had some recent heartbreakers, namely the 5-4 loss in Kalamazoo on Jan. 12 that culminated with the puck caroming off a seam in the boards to set up Logan Lambdin for a shot into an unguarded net with 52 seconds remaining.
The Fort Wayne goalie that night was Liam Hughes. On Sunday, it was Mario Culina, who stopped 39 shots, also allowing goals to Randy Gazzola, Brett Boeing, Brandon Schultz and Brandon Hawkins.
“I think it's still about us battling for each other. If anything, the group showed resiliency and no quit until the end of the game,” said Shawn Szydlowski, whose team rallied from deficits three times. “It's a tough place to win, especially for guys who haven't gotten this kind of rivalry experience, but they've in been close games and we're just getting some tough bounces right now.”
For division-leading Toledo (24-8-2), Max Milosek stopped 25 shots and allowed two goals to Lynden McCallum and one each to Kellen Jones, Shawn Boudrias and Szydlowski.
Szydlowski had tied the game for second-place Fort Wayne (19-13-4) off a rebound 12:40 into the third period, and McCallum netted a power-play goal from the right circle for a 5-4 lead at 15:06. Fort Wayne scored on 2 of 3 power plays. Toledo was 1 for 5.
The Komets lost forward Anthony Petruzzelli to an injury in the second period; he was cross-checked from behind by Butrus Ghafari and had to crawl off the ice. Petruzzelli, the Komets' captain, has never missed a game due to injury or illness – a run of 248 games – since joining the team as a rookie in 2018.
Notes: The ECHL suspended the Cincinnati's Jack Van Boekel five games for leaving the bench to join an altercation during the Komets' 4-0 victory Saturday at Memorial Coliseum. The Cyclones' Jesse Schultz was fined an undisclosed amount for spearing Will Graber.