After the morning skate Saturday, defenseman Jordon Southorn walked into the office of Komets coach Gary Graham and said, Hey, last night, that was the worst game you’re going to see from me all season.
Southorn, 23, who probably has more pressure on him than any of the Komets these days, then backed up his statement with two goals in a 4-2 victory over the Florida Everblades, in front of 6,997 fans at Memorial Coliseum.
I definitely wouldn’t expect two goals from me every night, but I’d like to contribute a little offense here and there, Southorn, 23, said. Speaking with Gary, I think we’re a little more focused on the defensive aspect of the game. There are a lot of skill guys here who can put the puck in the net and two solid goaltenders. I just want to contribute defensively, and hopefully we can get those close games and get the wins.
Southorn, 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, was acquired from the Elmira Jackals on Monday, in exchange for captain Nick Tuzzolino, who has since been called up to Rochester of the higher-level American Hockey League.
Southorn is on the top defensive pairing with Simon Danis-Pepin and manning the point on the power play.
The first two games after the trade, though, were not as the Komets would have hoped. They lost 3-1 to visiting Florida on Thursday and got manhandled 4-0 at Kalamazoo, Mich., on Friday night, as the Everblades rested in Fort Wayne.
After Florida forward Kyle Bonis opened the scoring 7:48 into the first period Saturday, defenseman Joe Hartman hopped off the bench and tied it with a 50-foot shot at 8:47. That ended a stretch of 121:05 in which Fort Wayne had failed to score.
Southorn scored on a power play at 1:18 of the second period – the shot ricocheted off the skate of a Florida player – and had another long-range shot for a goal at 9:10 of the third period.
A power-play goal by Florida’s Mike Merrifield at 16:11 was answered by forward Brandon Marino, who fought through a crowd of players and poked the puck underneath goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis (23 saves) at 18:45.
Fort Wayne’s Cody Reichard, a surprise starter, stopped 37 shots and got his first victory with the Komets in his six games with the team.
It’s a gut feeling, Graham said. Obviously, we acquired his rights through Florida (last summer) and there was something a little bit there. But Reichard and I have kind of been talking and he needs to get in more games to get going. It’s sort of like the situation last season here, where goalies couldn’t get in a rhythm. (Andrey) Makarov has been playing a lot and I felt like (Friday) night, we didn’t play very well in front of Cody and it could have easily been 7-0 or 8-0 at Kalamazoo. I know the boys wanted to play well in front of him and he was deserving of the start and played great.
Fort Wayne (7-7-2) pulled to .500 at the Coliseum at 3-3-3. Florida (13-5-2) came into the game 10-2-0 on the road.