FORT WAYNE – Ryan Palmer had it coming. That’s what the Komets felt anyway, going into Friday’s 5-4 loss to Bloomington.
There was some business that had to be taken care of, Fort Wayne coach Al Sims said.
The Komets went after the Blaze defenseman less than two minutes into Friday’s game, setting off a brawl that included both goaltenders leaving their creases to fight.
I don’t have any regrets. It was something that needed to be done to show this (Bloomington) team, as well as other teams, that we’re not going to stand for those plays. It’s dirty hockey, said Fort Wayne rookie Bryant Molle, whose attack of Palmer started the scrum.
Palmer had been a marked man since his clip of Fort Wayne’s leading scorer, Brett Smith, on Jan. 13. Palmer was suspended one game by the CHL. Smith missed five games with a concussion.
Fort Wayne captain Colin Chaulk tried to settle the score in a 3-2 victory Tuesday at Bloomington, Ill., but that fight ended quickly with Chaulk’s head smacking the ice. He hasn’t played since because of concussion-like symptoms.
So Molle began pummeling Palmer near the Bloomington net Friday in front of 7,236 fans at Memorial Coliseum, and soon Blaze goalie Brian Mahoney-Wilson joined in. Fort Wayne goalie Nick Boucher left his net and caught an unsuspecting Mahoney-Wilson with a punch to the face.
The brawl resulted in 43 penalty minutes with Molle and Boucher being ejected and Mahoney-Wilson leaving with a broken nose.
You never want to see a guy go down like that, said Boucher, who faced only two shots. It was in the heat of the moment. Looking back now, I wish I would have just tied (Mahoney-Wilson) up instead of coming in with fists flying.
Fort Wayne’s Gerry Festa had 32 saves in relief, but he wasn’t helped by the five minutes of 5-on-3 the melee left his team facing.
Bloomington got goals from Kyle Laughlin and Doug Krantz during the two-man advantage, but Fort Wayne got a short-handed breakaway goal from Frankie DeAngelis. There was a third major penalty to kill off, since Molle got two, and the Blaze went up 3-1 on Jon Booras’ rebound goal. DeAngelis answered with another short-handed goal at 9:03.
Bloomington’s Travis Granbois scored the next two goals for a 5-2 lead. The Komets answered in the third with goals from Jamie Milam (power play) and Jean-Michel Rizk.
Bloomington (18-25-5) was 3 for 6 on power plays, with a short-handed goal. Fort Wayne (30-16-2), which fell four points back of Evansville for first place in the Turner Conference, was 1 for 4 with two short-handed goals.
The effort was great. Our guys were dying after the penalty kill. (Brent Henley) must have been on for eight or nine of the 10 minutes short-handed (after the brawl), Sims said. It hurt us the rest of the game. We just didn’t have the energy we normally have. And it was tough for Festa, too; 5-on-3 for five minutes is unheard of. It definitely had an effect on their energy level late in the game.