The Journal Gazette
Saturday, December 04, 2021 10:10 pm

Komets fall 2-1 to Heartlanders

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

Trevin Kozlowski stopped 48 of 49 shots as the Iowa Heartlanders defeated the Komets 2-1 Saturday in front of 6,068 fans at Memorial Coliseum.

There was a play 9:10 into the third period that typified the Komets’ night: A Stephen Harper shot slipped between the goaltender’s legs but missed the net, then Fort Wayne’s Will Graber got the rebound and backhanded a shot that got past the goalie again before caroming off the far goalpost and out of harm’s way.

Then the Komets got a penalty shot at 17:36, after Nick Jermain was hauled down on a breakaway, but Jermain was stopped on the ensuing free attempt to score.

The Komets peppered the net with shots all night, but it wasn’t enough to prevent their fifth loss in their last seven games.

Not only did it come after the Komets played one of their best games of the season – a 4-0 victory over the Heartlanders on Friday – Iowa is the ECHL’s worst team and was playing one man short of a full 18-player lineup.

Fort Wayne (10-6-2) is on a 2-4-1 slide. Iowa is 5-11-3.

Goaltender Bailey Brkin stopped 24 of 26 shots in his Fort Wayne debut. The rookie previously had been with Quad City of the lower-level Southern Professional Hockey League, going 8-1-1 with a 1.79 goals-against average and a .937 save percentage this season.

Fort Wayne’s Harper opened the scoring 6:41 into the first period – there had just been a prolonged scrum for the puck after a faceoff and the Heartlanders botched an opportunity to take possession – as the Komets had the game’s first seven shots.

The Komets had a 24-9 shot advantage by the first intermission, but it remained a 1-0 score because Kozlowski made a bevy of acrobatic saves.

He was rewarded for his efforts when teammate Joe Widmar, a former Fort Wayne player, tied it with a shot from the left circle 8:49 into the second period just after an Iowa power play expired. That ended a string of 88:50 in which Fort Wayne hadn’t allowed a goal, including Jiri Patera’s 24-save shutout Friday.

The Komets had a 33-21 shot advantage at the second intermission, Harper having failed to score on two shots from point-blank range in the latter minutes of the period, and the Heartlanders took a 2-1 lead when Adrien Beraldo snapped a high from the right circle 2:29 into the third period.

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