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Komets lose to Wheeling

Despite scoring the opening goal, the Komets sank fast and lost 6-2 to the Wheeling Nailers on Friday night at Memorial Coliseum.

It dropped Fort Wayne to 2-4-2 in Gary Graham’s first season as coach. Wheeling is 3-3-1.

The Komets have held a lead in every game but one this season.

The Komets opened the scoring, in controversial fashion, 8:57 into the third period. During a mad scramble for the puck, forward Scott Fleming caromed the puck off the inside of goaltender Mike Condon’s right leg, and it crept just inside the left goalpost. Initially, referee Nic Leduc waved it off, but after consultation with the goal judge, it was ruled a goal. (The ECHL’s vice president of hockey operations, Joe Ernst, who is in charge of referees, was at the game.)

The Nailers went on to tally 17 of the next 21 shots, and get a goal from forward Denver Manderson, but the surge was halted by Fort Wayne forward John Dunbar’s goal from the right circle at 6:43 of the second period.

The celebration by 7,419 fans was short-lived; Wheeling forward Jack MacLellan scored 15 seconds later to tie it at 2.

The Nailers went up on forward Carter Rowney’s goal off a rebound at 11:30, and he did the same thing 15 seconds later for a 4-2 lead.

Wheeling put the game out of reach at 1:29 of the third period, when a tic-tac-toe passing play that began at the blue line ended with forward Christian Minella slipping the puck past sprawled goalie Andrey Makarov.

Rowney polished off his hat trick at 16:43 for a 6-2 lead.

Fort Wayne goaltender Andrey Makarov stopped 26 of 32 shots. Condon stopped 30 of 32.

Notes: Before the game, Fort Wayne’s Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock was fined an undisclosed amount by the ECHL for a boarding penalty in Wednesday’s 6-3 loss at Evansville. Schrock had been given a major penalty and game misconduct for the hit. … The Komets played without forward Shawn Szydlowski, who has a groin injury, defenseman Jeremy Gates (foot) and defenseman Kyle Follmer (groin). … During the game, Simon Danis-Pepin suffered a head injury.

Justin A. Cohn, pro sports coordinator for The Journal Gazette, has been covering the Fort Wayne Komets since 1997. His reporting includes game stories from home and away, features about the players and personalities associated with the Komets, plus coverage of issues affecting hockey at all levels. A native of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Cohn graduated from Emory University in Atlanta. He can be reached at 260-461-8429 or by email at