The Journal Gazette
Saturday, October 20, 2018 10:40 pm

Komets' skid to 3 with home-opening loss

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

The 67th home opener the Komets have played at Memorial Coliseum had many twists and turns.

It included a horrendous opening 37 seconds of the third period, in which the Komets squandered a lead. Then, there was a thunderous comeback by the Komets, with two goals in the span of 42 seconds.

But the letdown came nonetheless. Justin Taylor scored with a slapshot from the left circle with 2:21 remaining in the third period, sending the puck through the legs of goaltender Zach Fucale, and the Kalamazoo Wings secured a 5-3 victory.

Fucale stopped 21 of 25 shots for the Komets (1-3-0). Jake Hildebrand stopped 25 of 28 for the Wings (2-1-0).

The scoreless first period, in which was the Komets outshot the Wings 9-5, was defined by two things: an Anthony Petruzzelli shot from 20 feet out that beat Hildebrand but ricocheted off the goalpost; and a particularly woeful Fort Wayne power play in which it couldn’t get out of its defensive zone and was booed by the crowd of 10,067 fans.

But things became more festive 2:11 into the second period, when the Komets took the lead on a goal by Aidan Muir, a rookie out of Western Michigan, who capitalized on Justin Hodgman’s no-look pass from behind the net.

The Komets, who have only eight players back from last season, came into the night with only six goals in their first three games. Muir became the first newcomer to the team to net a goal.

Fucale, who was on the bench for the Komets’ 2-1 loss Friday night at Kalamazoo, Michigan, where Lukas Hafner stopped 26 of 28 shots, maintained the one-goal lead tonight by stopping Chad McDonald from point-blank range late in the second period.

The Wings tied it 21 seconds into the third period, when Kyle Bushee sent a wrist shot through a crowd from the left circle and it befuddled Fucale, who was screened on the play. Just 16 seconds after that, an odd-man rush saw Kalamazoo’s Ben Betker send the puck underneath Fucale for a 2-1 lead.

A goal by the Komets’ Phelix Martineau at 6:14 was followed by rookie Chase Stewart’s first goal – he played last season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League for the Rimouski Oceanic – and it came on a blistering shot from 40 feet out for a 3-2 Fort Wayne lead.

But, again, the Wings rallied, tying it at 15:00 when Jimmy Mullin was alone in front of the net to score on a one-timer to make it 3-all.

Taylor’s winning goal followed, though, and an empty-netter was added by Taylor, sending the Komets into a three-game losing streak.


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