KALAMAZOO, Mich. – Well, at least that’s over with.
Not the loss – the Komets fell 3-2 Saturday to the Kalamazoo Wings – but the most grueling stretch of games anyone can remember in Fort Wayne’s franchise history.
The Komets played 25 games in 44 days, going 13-11-1.
Everybody is glad that’s over, Fort Wayne center Brett Smith said, after the annual McDonald’s Golden Ice game before 4,039 fans, including about 500 from Fort Wayne, at Wings Stadium.
It would have been nice to end it with a win, but overall that was a pretty good effort. We had 41 shots, and we just couldn’t find a way to tie it up after falling behind early.
The Komets (22-19-2) had a chance to tie the game late – Kalamazoo’s Nick Sirota got a penalty for delay of game with just more than two minutes remaining – but they never got a good shot at goaltender Joel Martin.
(The Wings) came out flying, and we’ve had their number lately, said Smith, whose Komets are 6-4-1 in the season series. We came out a little flat and they jumped on us. But we fought back.
The Wings (17-19-4) opened the scoring 2:17 into the game on defenseman John Negrin’s shot from the blue line, and teammate Sam Ftorek soon added a power-play goal from the left circle.
Fort Wayne defenseman Nick Wheeler scored a power-play goal, his first with the team, off Brandon Marino’s pass from behind the net. The Wings answered 27 seconds later on left wing Aaron Clarke’s power-play goal.
In the final minute of the first period, Fort Wayne forward John Dunbar spun and slipped a shot between Martin and the right post. That was followed by a fight between Daniel Maggio and Negrin.
It’s been more than a game every other night, and our guys gave everything tonight, Fort Wayne coach Al Sims said. It was a bad start for us, unfortunately. But I didn’t think the score was going to be 3-2 after the first period. I thought it might end up being a 7-6, 8-7 game. Both teams ended up settling down.
There was no scoring in the second period, but there was a scary moment. Fort Wayne defenseman Ryan Hegarty lost an edge in the corner and, as he was falling, was crushed into the boards by Sirota. Hegarty left the game for a short time.
Early in the third period, the Wings had a chance to take control but right wing Alexandre Grenier’s breakaway was stopped by goalie Marco Cousineau, who stopped 29 of 32 shots.
Notes: A scout from the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets attended a second straight Komets game. The referee was Chris Pitoscia. The Komets played without captain Colin Chaulk for a 24th straight game because of a foot infection. Forward Thomas Beauregard remained out with an upper-body injury.