FORT WAYNE – Barring something miraculous, the Komets won’t make the postseason. So this nice little run they’re on – back-to-back victories and wins in three of four games – is too little, too late.
But they’re enjoying it anyway. And so are the Komets’ fans, who have had so little to cheer about this season at Memorial Coliseum but spent the last 10 minutes of an 8-5 victory mercilessly mocking Evansville goaltender James Reid.
We can’t take that (defeatist) mentality until we’re mathematically out of it, said Komets forward Matt Syroczynski, who had two goals and an assist.
Right now we’re still in it. We’re finally winning at home – this is three in a row (for a 15-18-0 record) at home – so until someone tells us we’re out, we’ll keep playing. Even after that, you’ve got to play for pride and for the fans and the organization.
The Komets (32-31-3 overall) are eight points back of Toledo for the eighth and final playoff spot in the ECHL’s Eastern Conference, with six games remaining in the regular season. They won back-to-back games for the first time since late January.
Back-to-back goals from Syroczynski gave the Komets a 3-1 lead, and the IceMen were never able to catch up. After he was stoned on a breakaway by Reid, Syroczynski scored off rebounds at 13:11 of the first period and 2:10 of the second, after which his celebration included inadvertently knocking over referee Joe Sullivan.
It was pretty funny and we were both laughing. I’m just glad he didn’t get hurt. I turned around and stopped just in time. We clicked the steel together and he fell down, Syroczynski said.
The Komets had a season high for goals, getting tallies from Ryan Hegarty, Brett Smith, Thomas Beauregard, Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock, Dan Nycholat and J.P. Labardo, who made his professional debut.
Labardo had 24 goals and 62 points in 67 games with Erie of the Ontario Hockey League this season.
I thought he was great, Fort Wayne coach Al Sims said. He’s got great quickness. His first three strides are incredible and he got his first three or four shots on net and scored a goal. He could have had two or three. He killed penalties and played the power play. For a 21-year-old kid, you can’t ask much more of him. I thought he had a great debut.
Fort Wayne’s goaltender, Jeff Deslauriers, who has played in 11 of the last 12 games, stopped 29 of 34 shots.
He was bested by Jason Dale, Dylan Clarke, Patrick Kennedy, Daniel Tetrault and Gabriel Oliver, who scored with a backhand shot from the blue line.
Before the game, Eastern Conference-worst Evansville (23-37-6) lost its captain and leading scorer, Todd Robinson (68 points, minus-35 rating), who left to join Allen of the CHL for its upcoming playoff run.
Notes: Komets assistant equipment manager Steve Wissman was honored before working his 2,000th game with 13 teams, including the NHL’s St. Louis Blues. The Komets played without captain Colin Chaulk (groin), forward John Dunbar (ankle) and defenseman Scott Kishel, who was suspended at least two games for a boarding major Friday. He is expected to be back Wednesday against Reading at the Coliseum.