INDIANAPOLIS – When the calendar turned to 2019, the Komets seemed to figure things out. They had just been lambasted by team president Michael Franke for inconsistent performances, but they rattled off five straight victories to begin the year.
Granted, their lineup is currently missing some of its top guns, but the Komets were hoping the all-star break would be an opportunity for them to reset and figure out how to succeed moving forward.
They lost 5-0 tonight to the Indy Fuel at Indiana Farmers Coliseum, where the Fuel (21-18-3) pulled into a tie with Fort Wayne (21-17-3) for third place in the Central Division.
Matt Thompson had two goals and an assist for the Fuel. Brett Welychka had a goal and two assists for Indy, which is 3-4-1 against Fort Wayne this season.
Matt Tomkins had 30 saves to hand the Komets their first shutout loss of the season.
The Komets’ winless streak was extended to five games, during which they are 0-3-2.
(Video highlights from the game are above.)
The Komets were without their two leading scorers, Justin Hodgman (hand) and Jake Kamrass (upper body), along with forward Jordan Sims (hip). They played with seven defensemen, one more than usual.
The Komets play the Wheeling Nailers at 3 p.m. Sunday in Wheeling, West Virginia.
The best save of the first period was made by Fort Wayne goalie Lukas Hafner, who kicked away a Welychka redirection of a Connor Moynihan shot 6:10 into the game.
Welychka would get redemption, though, by sending a cross-ice pass that was banged into the back of the net by Mathew Thompson for a 1-0 lead at 12:02, seconds after referee Jacob Rekucki had disregarded Fort Wayne defenseman Ryan Lowney’s pleas for a tripping penalty.
Though Fort Wayne’s Ryan Siiro sacrificed his body to block a shot from just inside the blue line from Logan Nelson, the puck was retrieved by Nelson and he skated through two defenders to send a crossing pass for Ryan Rupert to smack the puck in and make it 2-0 at 14:18.
Things could have gotten worse for the Komets early in the second period, but Hafner foiled a no-look backhand shot from point-blank range made by Welychka, so Indy’s lead remained at 2-0.
The Komets were living on borrowed time, though, because J.C. Campagna lost his footing and gave away the puck to Quintin Shore in the Indy zone, allowing him to set up Welychka for a shot from the right circle for a 3-0 lead at 10:22 on Indy’s 14th shot.
Just after Fort Wayne defenseman Jason Binkley stopped what would have been a goal by blocking the puck with his shoulder, Indy went up 4-0 on a Moynihan shot at 19:42 of the second period.
Hafner was pulled by coach Gary Graham after two periods, having stopped 14 of 18 shots, and replaced by Eric Levine, who stopped 4 of 5.
Notes: Fort Wayne defenseman Trey Phillips returned from family leave but was a scratch. … Goalie Zach Fucale and forward Matthew Weis remained with Chicago of the higher-level American Hockey League. Forward Phelix Martineau was with Laval of the AHL.