The Komets knew the weekend would be a struggle, as they’d have to play short of a full 18-man lineup all three games, but they didn’t come out of the set with a single point for the standings.
They gave up five unanswered goals Sunday in a 5-2 loss to the Indy Fuel, in front of 4,162 fans at Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis, and that came on the heels of a 5-4 road loss to Kalamazoo on Friday and a 6-3 loss at Memorial Coliseum to Tulsa on Saturday.
(Video highlights are above.)
The Komets opened Sunday’s game strongly, getting a goal from Max Gottlieb on a shot from 50 feet out that careened through a crowd. Anthony Petruzzelli made it 2-0 by snatching the puck from a defenseman in the corner, swiveling and firing from a difficult angle at 14:10.
Indy’s Mathieu Foget answered with a shot from the blue line, just after a faceoff, at 15:57 and it was followed shortly thereafter by a fight between the Fuel’s Michael Doherty and the Komets’ Will Petschenig.
The Fuel tied it 2 on Doherty’s snap from the right circle 14:17 into the second period.
In the third period, Indy got goals from Nathan Noel, Jake Ryczek and Ryan Van Stralen. The Fuel (26-19-3), which has won five in a row, has a five-point lead over Fort Wayne for third place in the Central Division.
The Komets (21-19-8), who are in a 2-5-3 slump, lead Wheeling by only three points for the fourth and final playoff spot with 24 games left in the regular season.
Cole Kehler stopped 19 of 24 shots. Indy’s Dan Bakala stopped 33 of 35. Fort Wayne scored on 1 of 2 power plays and Indy was 1 for 4.
The Komets played without forwards Brady Shaw (head), who leads the team in scoring, all-star Shawn St-Amant (upper body) and Brad Morrison (leg); defensemen Chase Stewart (ECHL suspension), Kyle Haas (suspension) and Taylor Doherty (undisclosed); and goalie Dylan Ferguson (illness).
The Komets weren’t able to bring in any more players because of salary cap and roster constraints, as Stewart and Haas remain on the active roster with three games left for each in their suspensions for their roles in a brawl at Jacksonville, Florida, on Jan. 31.