Brandon Hawkins kept up his frenetic pace – he had four goals tonight – and Fort Wayne rallied in the third period to defeat the Indy Fuel 6-3 in front of an announced crowd of 1,630 at Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis.
It was the Komets’ first four-goal game since Shawn Szydlowski on Dec. 27, 2016, also against the Fuel.
“I’ll be honest with you, my feet were moving and I had a couple of great linemates in Anthony Nellis and A.J. Jenks, so it was fun to play with them and our power play was clicking,” Hawkins said. “It’s very easy to play when everybody’s on their best game, so a lot is attributed to my linemates on this.”
(Video highlights are above.)
Hawkins, whose third goal of the night tied it at 3, now has 13 goals and 21 points in 19 games this season. Morgan Adams-Moisan netted the winner 1:17 later, as Fort Wayne had all four goals of the third period and outshot the Fuel 23-5 in the frame.
“It was a pretty disappointing first 40 minutes, to be honest with you,” Komets coach Ben Boudreau said. “I didn’t think our heads were in it and we weren’t physically or mentally ready to go tonight. So it took a little talking to between the second and third (periods) to make sure we lit a fire under them and they really responded, which any coach would definitely respect. So it’s not how we started the game, but it’s how we finished.”
Dylan Ferguson totaled 15 saves for Western Conference-leading Fort Wayne (13-5-3). Dan Bakala had 37 for the Fuel (25-12-3).
Fort Wayne scored on 2 of 3 power plays – both goals from Hawkins – and Indy was 0 for 2.
Coming into the night, Fort Wayne was 1-4-1 when trailing at the second intermission and Indy was 11-0-2 when leading at that juncture, but the Komets bucked the trend and took three victories from the four-game set between the teams.
Ferguson, the ECHL’s reigning Goaltender of the Week, was solid early for the Komets, foiling a Joe Sullivan shot from 20 feet out 3:47. But Ferguson was helpless at 10:10, when a failed clearing attempt by Fort Wayne’s Zach Pochiro set up Indy’s Matt Marcinew alone in front for a shot and a 1-0 lead.
Pochiro atoned less than 3 minutes later, as he and Jenks assisted on a Hawkins power-play goal from the right circle. Hawkins is on a six-game point-scoring streak, during which he has eight goals and 11 points. Jenks is on a four-game points streak, during which he has three goals and eight points.
Hawkins gave Fort Wayne a 2-1 lead when he flicked in the rebound of an Nellis shot 41 seconds into the second period. But with a delayed penalty on Fort Wayne coming, Indy’s Michael Pelech hopped off the bench as an extra attacker and snapped a rebound in at 1:04.
On its 13th shot, the Fuel took a 3-2 lead; Tim Davison stole the puck at center ice to set up Jared Thomas, who skated in alone from the right circle and blasted the puck above defenseman Nick Boka, who was sliding to try and block the shot, and past Ferguson’s stick.
“We came in the locker room after the second period and Benny and (assistant Olivier Legault) challenged us to come out and do what we do, and we came out with a win,” Hawkins said. “I think it was just a matter of the guys really stepping up and playing our game, and we come out with a win because of it.”
The Komets tallied the first seven shots of the third period, and 10 of the first 13, but it took time to solve Bakala’s sprawling saves.
Hawkins polished off his hat trick at 10:00; skating into the offensive zone, he flicked a pass that was batted down, but he regained possession and fired a 40-footer past Bakala to tie it at 3. Adams-Moisan’s winner came at the end of an odd-man rush, set up by a Marcus McIvor pass.
Hawkins added a power-play goal from a tough angle in the corner and Nellis scored an empty-net goal to make it 6-3.
Notes: Forward Jason Cotton was recalled by Chicago of the American Hockey League, after he totaled four goals and six points in 17 Fort Wayne games. … Goalie Jake Theut was waived; he didn’t play in a week with the Komets. … The Komets played without Szydlowski, who had a minor injury and was also being rested, Jackson Leef, Curtis Leonard and Nolan LaPorte. … The referee was Logan Gruhl. … Indy coach Dan Christensen served the fourth game of his six-game suspension for violating the collective bargaining agreement and salary cap. Andy Contois is coaching in his stead.