KALAMAZOO, Mich. – The Komets will finish with a sub-.500 season for the first time since 1996-97, the infamously bad season in the old IHL in which they fired coach Dave Farrish and hired John Torchetti.
Despite a spectacular effort from goaltender Jeff Deslauriers, the Komets (32-35-4) lost 3-2 to the Kalamazoo Wings on Friday at Wings Stadium, extending Fort Wayne’s losing streak to five games heading into tonight’s finale at Memorial Coliseum.
Given the hard-hitting third period Friday night – Yann Sauve’s crushing hit from behind knocked Eric Giosa from the game – it could be an interesting match for a crowd likely to exceed 9,000.
(Deslauriers) was the same as every night. He’s amazing and keeps us in games, said center Jean-Michel Rizk, whose call-up to Norfolk of the American Hockey League was canceled by the Admirals before the game. Jeff gives us a chance to stay in games and to win games, but we’ve got to find a way to give him more support.
The Komets had 38 shots, getting goals from Nick Schaus and Giosa, but they weren’t good enough to win until the third period. By then, it was too late.
Our team finally showed up in the third period and played hard, competed, and you can’t say enough about Deslauriers who gave us a chance, Fort Wayne coach Al Sims said. We had some great chances after that and (goalie) Joel Martin stoned us. But we had some great opportunities. Our guys fought hard and competed in the third, but the first two periods were not great.
As for Sims’ future, general manager David Franke said he will be evaluated like everyone else.
Al Sims is under contract as the head coach and director of player personnel with the Komets, Franke said, declining to discuss when that contract ends. We’ll have our end-of-season meetings and talk about everything, but there won’t be any decisions made about anybody for a while yet.
David Franke, team president Michael Franke and more than 100 Komets fans were among the crowd of 4,874, who saw Sauve answer an early Schaus goal during a 5-on-3 power play in the first period.
The Wings’ Kory Karlander took a cross-ice pass and put the Wings up 2-1 at 4:57 of the second period, and 1:35 later John Armstrong accepted a pass from behind the net and made it a two-goal lead.
Giosa scored off a rebound, during a power play at 6:48 of the third period, but the Komets missed the net on a Brandon Marino breakaway and on several shots from point-blank range.
Notes: Tyler Butler took a puck in the face but returned after about 10 minutes. Ryan Hegarty also was briefly knocked out of the game. The Wings Stadium scoreboard – new this season – lost power three times during the game. The officials had to keep time themselves some. Notre Dame’s Braxton Cave, Theo Riddick and Mike Golic will be signing autographs tonight at the Coliseum – for a fee – at a sponsor’s booth in the concourse.