Anthony Petruzzelli had two goals and an assist in a crucial 6-5 Fort Wayne victory over Wichita tonight in front of 7,681 fans at Memorial Coliseum.
Justin Hodgman, back in the Komets’ lineup for the first time since Jan. 11, scored a wild goal. Chasing the puck behind the Thunder’s net, he took advantage after Dillon Donnelly inexplicably passed it right on to his stick, and he flicked it into the twine for a three-goal lead.
The Komets outshot Wichita 42-27.
It was more goals produced by Fort Wayne’s offense than in any of its previous 12 games, and the most since its 10-8 loss to the Kalamazoo Wings on Jan. 16.
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The Komets had lost 3-2 to the Thunder at the Coliseum on Wednesday in an overtime shootout.
The Komets snapped a five-game winless streak (0-1-4) and a seven-game home winless streak (0-3-4).
It was the first of back-to-back “Pink the Rink” games for the Komets, who partner with the Vera Bradley Foundation’s fight against breast cancer. They are donning special jerseys that they will wear again 5 p.m. Sunday against the ECHL-leading Cincinnati Cyclones at Memorial Coliseum that are being auctioned off to fans.
Hodgman had missed the previous 15 games because of a broken hand – suffered fighting Indy’s Zach Miskovic – and the Komets were 3-4-8 in the absence of their all-star.
The Komets also played tonight without defenseman Jason Binkley, who suffered a broken arm in overtime Wednesday on an open-ice check from Wichita’s Gabriel Verpaelst; Phelix Martineau, who is with Laval of the higher-level American Hockey League; and Jordan Sims (hip), Cody Sol, Mason Baptista and Quintin Lisoway.
Sean Flanagan, acquired from Greenville for future considerations on Tuesday, made his debut for the Komets.
Verpaelst opened the scoring with a wrist shot from the blue line that sailed through a crowd 7:43 into the first period, but Fort Wayne’s Anthony Petruzzelli answered with a power-play goal 58 seconds later thanks to a Shawn Szydlowski cross-ice pass.
Petruzzelli struck again for a 2-1 lead at 13:09. It came after he circled the net and sent a pass to Szydlowski at the blue line for him to send a shot at the net, setting Petruzzelli up to flick the rebound inside the left goal post.
Petruzzelli’s third point of the night came 1:26 into the second period when his pass from the left post set up attacking defenseman Trey Phillips for a goal and a 3-1 lead, but Wichita’s Steven Iacobellis answered 1:22 later with a one-timer after a Jakob Stukel crossing pass.
Instead of rolling along the boards, a Verpaelst dump in took a wild hop on to the stick of Wichita’s Lane Bauer, who was able to catch Fort Wayne goaltender Zach Fucale out of the net to tie it at 3 at 4:37.
The Komets took a 4-3 lead when Taylor Crunk redirected Garrett Clarke’s blue-line shot at 8:50 and Fort Wayne’s J.C. Campagna netted a snap shot from 40 feet out, during a power play at 12:36, before Hodgman’s wacky goal made it 6-3.
But the Thunder rallied; Pierre-Cedric Labrie scored at 19:56 and Donnelly at 10:32 of the third period, cutting Fort Wayne’s lead to 6-5.