FORT WAYNE – If goal scoring had been the only problem, it would have been easily explainable.
But the Komets’ 4-2 loss to the Gwinnett Gladiators on Friday at the Coliseum was one-sided in almost every facet of the game. The Gladiators outshot the Komets 37-20, possessed the puck the majority of the game and forced an abundance of turnovers.
Our guys were frustrated tonight and made some very bad turnovers that cost us goals, Komets coach Al Sims said.
You just can’t turn it over against that team. You’ve got to get it deep and grind them in their zone; though we did get it to 3-2 before a fluky bounce made it 4-2, making it hard on us.
But a 10-player melee with seven seconds remaining gave the 7,417 fans something to remember and made the rematch tonight at the Coliseum all the more interesting.
I don’t think it means much, said right wing Brandon Marino, who had both Fort Wayne goals and five of its 11 this season. It was just a heated game there at the end. We can’t worry about that stuff going into tomorrow. We’ve got to win a hockey game. That’s first and foremost.
We can’t have a vendetta, thinking we’ve got to try to make up for what happened at the end. Both teams went at it; it wasn’t just their team coming at us. We threw punches, too. We’ve got to worry about winning hockey games.
The Komets (2-2-1) may have to win without defenseman Brent Henley, who was given a match penalty by referee Chris Pitoscia for his actions in the brawl. Sims said the referee told him it was because Henley repeatedly sucker-punched a player with Gwinnett (3-2-1), even though Henley still had his gloves on. Any match penalties are automatically reviewed by the ECHL for possible supplementary discipline.
Gwinnett forward Evan Bloodoff scored twice in the first period – on a one-timer from 15 feet out and on a 20-foot wrist shot – and the Gladiators had a 2-1 lead.
The first period killed us and that’s the lesson we’ve learned from this, Marino said.
We can’t play 40 minutes. We played good in the second and third (periods) and showed a little bit of heart there, but we’ve got to show up right from the start. We can’t let a team get a lead on us like that.
Gwinnett forward Tony Lucia’s pass from behind the net set up forward Doug Jones for a goal and a 3-1 lead 7:15 into the second period.
After left wing Josh Brittain’s crossing pass set up Marino for a one-timer goal at 12:07 of the third period, Lucia scored 51 seconds later by crashing the net and chipping a wobbly puck over the glove of goaltender Marco Cousineau just before the net came off its moorings.
Cousineau (1-1-0) stopped 33 shots in the first-ever meeting between the teams. Gwinnett’s Mike Lee (3-1-1) stopped 18.
Notes: Fort Wayne played for the first time without forwards Chris Auger (knee) and Eric Giosa (ankle). The Komets have stopped introducing the starting lineup of opposing teams and Komets president Michael Franke said it was his decision. It’s in accordance with ECHL rules, he said, and it saves time. Former Komets tough guy Jeff Worlton, who is an assistant coach in the North American Hockey League, was suspended six games for an inappropriate gesture in Corpus Christi’s 9-3 loss to Amarillo on Sunday.