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The Komets’ Josh Brittain, front, scored two goals in the final minute for a hat trick on Wednesday.
Komets 7, Kalamazoo 3

Komets dominate Wings

Caputi notches two early goals, Brittain strikes late for hat trick

Photos by Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
The Komets’ Matt Firman scores against Kalamazoo’s Joel Martin during the first period of Wednesday’s win.
Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
The Komets’ Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock falls as he shoots against Kalamazoo’s Joel Martin.

– Luca Caputi entered Wednesday’s game against Kalamazoo with two goals since joining the Komets a couple of weeks ago.

He doubled that output in the first period. Caputi finished with two goals and Josh Brittain had a hat trick as the Komets defeated the Wings 7-3 in front of 6,275 fans at Memorial Coliseum.

“I had never played them, but I had heard it’s a passionate rivalry, and it was the same way tonight. We wanted to get on them and set the tone early,” Caputi said.

Brittain scored twice in the final minute to finish with three goals. Matt Firman and Jean-Michel Rizk also had goals for Fort Wayne (12-9-1).

“I thought our team was in charge all night,” Komets coach Al Sims said.

Brett Smith and Ryan Lasch each had three assists as the Komets won for the third time in four games.

It was a big return for Smith, who missed the previous four games with a groin injury.

“It was awesome. It’s tough missing game watching the guys battle without you out there,” Smith said.

“It was a long time coming even though it’s been a couple of weeks. I was excited to get back out there and nothing better than in a win.”

Smith and Lasch assisted on both of Caputi’s goals.

This was Caputi’s sixth game with the Komets. Assigned to Fort Wayne by Norfolk of the American Hockey League on Nov. 27, he scored his first two goals for the Komets at Orlando in a 3-0 victory Saturday.

“I was snake bitten a lot, and I wanted to prove I could be an elite player in this league. I’m just trying to do that every day, every practice, every shift,” Caputi said.

Caputi’s first goal Wednesday came when he spun around and went upstairs to score at 4:37 of the first period.

Caputi’s second goal came at 9:23 to extend the lead to 2-0. Firman made it 3-0 with his fourth goal of the season.

Fort Wayne’s penalty-kill unit stepped up in the second period. Kalamazoo (10-11-2) went 0 for 4 in power-play chances in the period. Kalamazoo went 0 for 6 on power-play opportunities in the game.

“It really kept them down. I thought Charlie (Effinger) was huge,” Sims said. Effinger finished with 27 saves.

“And you can’t say enough about the guys who block shots. I remember (Ryan) Hegarty, (Scott) Kishel, (Daniel) Maggio, Firman, (Stephon) Thorne. They are all sacrificing themselves to make sure shots don’t get to Charlie. Especially the 5-on-3, 4-on-3, I thought they did an excellent job of keeping the puck away from the net.”

Goals in the second period by Rizk and Brittain stretched Fort Wayne’s lead to 5-1.

The Wings scored twice early in the third period. But Brittain added goals at 19:15 and 19:25 to put the game away.

“I’ll take them. They may not have been the prettiest, but they all count,” Brittain said. “We’re just trying to put forth a great effort for the fans, and we’re going to carry it into this weekend.”

lpope@jg.net

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