The Journal Gazette
Friday, October 18, 2019 10:50 pm

Stellar start propels K's to victory

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

Maybe you thought the Komets’ start in their season opener was impressive.

It turns out, that was nothing by comparison.

The Komets got four goals on their first seven shots, all within the first 5:06 tonight, and it sparked them to a 7-3 victory over the Wheeling Nailers at Memorial Coliseum.

A.J. Jenks scored twice. Brett McKenzie, who was returned to Fort Wayne by Chicago of the higher-level American Hockey League on Wednesday, had two assists and a fight.

Cole Kehler stopped 23 of 26 shots.

(Video highlights are above.)

The Komets (2-0-0) had won their season opener 5-2 over the Kalamazoo Wings on Oct. 12, when they opened the scoring with a Brycen Martin goal 18 seconds into the game – on the first shot.

This time, it took two shots and 51 seconds for the puck to carom off Brady Shaw’s leg and into the net, after McKenzie spun and fired blindly from the right boards.

Things then escalated quickly.

Fort Wayne took a 2-0 lead when a McKenzie pass from the left boards set up Shawn St-Amant alone in the slot, where he whipped the puck into the top of the net at 3:08.

The onslaught continued with Alan Lyszczarczyk redirecting a Max Gottlieb shot into the top of the net at 3:33, giving Lyszczarczyk two goals in as many games.

And Mason Bergh stole the puck behind the Wheeling net, then sent a blind backhand pass to Anthony Petruzzelli, who swatted it in for a 4-0 lead at 5:06.

Amazingly, the Nailers left rookie goaltender Alex D’Orio in the game, despite his having stopped only 3 of 7 shots. D’Orio, who is on a contract with the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins, finished with 23 saves on 30 shots for Wheeling (0-2-0) before he was replaced by Jordan Ruby.

Fort Wayne’s goalie, Kehler, a prospect of the Los Angeles Kings, stopped a shot from Wheeling’s Yushiroh Hirano from point-blank range in the opening minutes of the game. Hirano atoned at 10:44, netting a slapshot from 50 feet out during a power play to cut the Fort Wayne lead to 4-1.

The Komets answered at 19:05 when a 15-foot Petruzzelli pass set up Jenks for a shot into an open net and a 5-1 lead. It was Jenks’ first goal for the Komets and he will face his former team, the Toledo Walleye, 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Coliseum.

After Wheeling’s Brandon Hawkins scored by redirecting a Hirano centering pass, Fort Wayne’s Chase Stewart elevated his team’s lead to 6-2 by snapping the puck in from 30 feet at 12:11.

On the ensuing faceoff, Wheeling’s Jake Schultz collided with the Shaw’s face to incite a fight between Schultz and McKenzie, sending the 7,496 fans into a tizzy.

Jenks scored again at 16:58, putting a rebound past the diving D’Orio during a power play, for a 7-2 lead.

Notes: Goals 2-4 were separated by 1:58. The franchise record for shortest amount of time between three goals is 39 seconds. … Only 14 seconds separated the second and third goal, but the franchise record for quickest back-to-back goals is 4 seconds – both by Garrett Meurs in 2016. … The referee was Maxime Primeau. … Out of the Fort Wayne lineup were Eric Israel, Gage Torrel, Kyle Haas, Matt Brassard, Taylor Ross and Brad Ross.


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