FORT WAYNE – Memorial Coliseum was packed Friday night – there were 9,327 fans – and historically that would have created a perfect storm for the Komets.
Not this night. Not this season.
The Komets’ 3-2 overtime shootout loss to the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs wasn’t just a disappointment for the fans, but it was on par in this unusual freshman CHL season for Fort Wayne.
The Komets lead the league in average attendance with 7,398 fans per game – Friday’s was the fourth largest of the season – but big crowds haven’t led to big victories. The Komets are only 4-4-2 in front of their 10 largest crowds, and they’ve been outscored 36-34 in those games.
The Fort Wayne team that went 82-19-13 at the Coliseum the past three seasons is 17-11-4 at home this season.
And a lot of those games have been on Fridays, and we’re awful on Fridays. It’s a mystery. We don’t know why, said left wing P.C. Drouin, whose power-play goal with 9:19 remaining forced the extra time. I wish we knew because that would help us. But there’s no excuse. We’ve got to come out better. I thought we played pretty well. But they’re a good team, and if you don’t play your best, you’re not going to win against a team like this.
Perhaps no one played better than Fort Wayne goaltender Nick Boucher, who stopped 30 of 32 shots, including several from point-blank range, and even won a race to the puck, then checked the Mudbugs’ Justin Aikins into the boards near the blue line late in the third period. In the shootout, Boucher stopped the first six shooters before being foiled by Aikins and Steven Crampton.
Boucher played great and deserved a better outcome than what happened, said Drouin, whose Komets (28-25-7) only got a shootout goal from center Mathieu Curadeau.
Bossier-Shreveport (35-25-3) goalie John DeCaro stopped 23 of 25 shots and 7 of 8 shootout attempts.
It was a great game, and both teams wanted it, Fort Wayne coach Al Sims said. Boucher played tremendous for us all night long. He just couldn’t come up with that one last save for us after (Curadeau) scored for the (shootout) lead.
The Mudbugs, who were playing a second straight game without leading scorer David Rutherford (concussion), took advantage of an early Jon Mirasty boarding penalty for a lead. On the ensuing power play, Aikins scored during a 2-on-1 rush on the second shot of the game, at 3:47.
Not until 2:27 of the second period did the Mudbugs strike again. With the teams playing 4-on-4, just after a faceoff, defenseman Jamie Milam fired a 35-foot shot above the shoulder Boucher for a 2-0 lead.
Defenseman Michael Ratchuk answered from the slot at 13:46.
Note: Mudbugs goalie Ryan Munce, who made an obscene gesture with his stick after Wednesday’s game, wasn’t disciplined by the CHL.