It’s looking almost inevitable that the Komets will place fourth in the Central Division.

The Komets lost 5-2 to the Fuel on Saturday night – in the latest game between the teams dominated by officiating decisions – and Fort Wayne is now 11 points back of Indy for third place.

Fort Wayne (30-23-6) has only 13 games remaining, though it has two games in hand.

The storyline at Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis was familiar, as Fort Wayne trailed early and struggled to stay out of the penalty box, though there was a controversial decision by referee John Lindner in the first period that negated a Komets goal and may have changed the scope of the game.

Fort Wayne’s goals came from Scott Allan – his was on a power play and, some Indy fans might argue, shouldn’t have counted – and Adam Brubacher.

Indy (37-21-3), which clinched a playoff spot, got goals from Chad Yetman, Colin Bilek, Alex Wideman, Luc Brown and Logan Nijhoff.

Fort Wayne scored on 1 of 3 power plays. Indy was 0 for 7.

The Komets are 11 points up on Wheeling and, assuming the Komets finish fourth, would face the division champion. Right now, the Toledo Walleye, which is on a 19-0-1 run, has a one-point lead for first over the Cincinnati Cyclones, who the Komets face 3 p.m. Sunday in Cincinnati.

The Komets came into Saturday without Mark Rassell, who was called up to Bakersfield of the American Hockey League after he scored twice in Friday’s 5-3 come-from-behind road victory over the Kalamazoo Wings. Fort Wayne scored four unanswered third-period goals in that contest and felt it had made some strides in discipline, taking only four minor penalties.

It didn’t last. Fort Wayne took 10 minors Saturday (four more than Indy) and faced three 5-on-3 power plays, in front of an announced crowd of 5,020.

Some penalties were particularly ill-timed; for example, Daniel Maggio got a third-period penalty for goaltender interference, negating a delayed power play when his Komets trailed by two, and Blake Siebenaler was whistled for slashing behind the play less than 4 minutes later.

Fort Wayne came into the night with a league-high 19.57 penalty minutes per game, including 370 minors, 20 more than any other team. Its work included 20 penalties for 88 minutes in the previous meeting between Fort Wayne and Indy, a 6-2 Fuel victory last Sunday at Memorial Coliseum, memorable for coach Ben Boudreau’s post-game criticism of referee Sam Heidemann.

On Saturday, the Komets were without Tye Felbaher (with Milwaukee of AHL), Stefano Giliati (shoulder) and Jacob Graves (undisclosed).

Goaltender Rylan Parenteau, who returned this week from Abbotsford of the AHL but hasn’t played since Feb. 5 because of a lower-body injury, was added to Fort Wayne’s active roster and backed up Corbin Kaczperski as Ryan Fanti got a night off.

Kaczperski stopped 26 of 30 shots, after allowing three goals on the first 15 shots he faced. Indy’s Zach Driscoll stopped 27 of 29 shots.

As has become customary, the Komets allowed the first goal – Yetman scored from the right circle after Fort Wayne’s Darien Kielb was tripped up behind his own net without a call – just 36 seconds into the game on Indy’s first shot. The Komets have allowed the first goal in 10 of their last 12 games – including Friday’s – and 36 of 59 games this season.

A goal by Fort Wayne’s Drake Rymsha was disallowed because Lindner determined via video review that Shawn Boudrias made some contact with the goalie and impeded him from making a save, even though Boudrias seemed to leave the area before Rymsha’s shot came flying in.

Indy’s Bilek scored at 18:57, after a tic-tac-toe passing play, to make it 2-0. And Wideman made it 3-0 with a shot from between the circles 25 seconds into the second period.

A Tristian Pelletier fight with Bilek, after the latter upended Siebenaler along the boards, created some momentum for the Komets and Allan scored after a scramble for the puck at 6:07. That goal was also reviewed because Matthew Boudens collided with Driscoll, but it was upheld when it was determined a Fuel player had checked Boudens into him.

Indy’s Brown made it 4-1 with a goal at 10:52, after Andrew Bellant flicked him a pass from just outside the left post, and Fort Wayne’s Brubacher followed that with a rocketing shot from the left circle at 11:34.

The Komets outshot the Fuel 14-7 in the third period, but penalties to Maggio, Siebenaler and Boudens hindered their quest for a comeback, and Nijhoff scored into an empty net at 19:11.

Senior Writer

Justin A. Cohn, senior writer for The Journal Gazette, has covered Fort Wayne sports since 1997. A native of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, he was named Sportswriter of the Year by the Indiana Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association in 2020.