KALAMAZOO, Mich. – It took 24 days, and being released and then re-signed, but Patrick Munson finally got a chance to show what he could do for the Komets.
Munson stopped 37 shots at Wings Event Center, including a breathtaking glove save while falling to the ice against Kyle Blaney, and the Komets defeated the Kalamazoo Wings 5-2.
“The one thing he's looking for is an opportunity. We gave him one and he stood on his head tonight,” Komets coach Ben Boudreau said. “He was the biggest player on our team as far as being on the back end of (four games in five nights). We needed him to be spectacular and he was just that.”
Munson also came up big in the third period, stopping Zach Frye from point-blank range to preserve a two-goal lead in front of 2,355 fans. Matthew Boudens cemented the victory with his second goal of the game, an empty-netter, and the Komets extended their winning streak to five games.
“(Munson) was terrific. He was unbelievable,” Boudreau said. “Now you know why he's had great numbers wherever he's played – that's why. This guy is more than a backup goalie; he could be a starter with the way he's played, if he ever gets an opportunity.”
The Komets have had a carousel of goalies with the Vegas Golden Knights sending Dylan Ferguson a few times, the Los Angeles Kings moving Matthew Villalta and Cole Kehler back and forth, and Stephen Dhillon playing, too.
“It's a new challenge, something I've never had to deal with before,” Munson said. “It's been about staying sharp in practice and working hard. We've got a great group, so it's fun to be here, and I've always got to try and be ready when my number is called.”
Kehler had played the previous five games.
“It's never what you want, having to wait, but Benny has been awesome to me and the guys have been awesome, making sure I'm ready when my opportunity came. I was very happy the guys played so well in front of me,” said Munson, who played at Michigan Tech in 2017-18, in Nottingham, England, last season, and had three games this season with the Newfoundland Growlers.
For Kalamazoo (6-10-2), goalie Jake Kielly stopped 30 shots. The Komets (13-6-2) went 9-4-1 in their 14-game stretch of divisional games, pulling into a first-place tie with Cincinnati.
“I'm extremely happy right now,” Boudreau said. “We're at the top of the division and we're looking down at a lot of teams. That's exactly where we wanted to be after 21 games. Now we get a six-day rest and get to kind of mange some of those bumps and bruises.”
Leaving the game with injuries were A.J. Jenks and Brad Morrison, who had opened the scoring 8:33 into the first period by banking the puck off Kielly's back and into the net. Alan Lyszczarczyk made it 2-0 during a power play at 10:43.
The Wings answered with a Zach Diamantoni one-timer that set off the annual Teddy Bear toss – 1,578 stuffed animals were thrown onto the ice for Bronson Children's Hospital – but Boudens responded with a 15-footer. Boudens and Jermaine Loewen had returned from Chicago of the American Hockey League before the game.
Fort Wayne's Brady Shaw and Kalamazoo's Blaney also scored.
“It's always nice when your team can score five goals for you any given night,” Munson said. “We just kept it really simple. We knew that team was really aggressive and we just used our skill, used our brains, kept it really simple and took advantage of our chances.”
Notes: On Saturday, the Komets wore “Star Wars” jerseys and changed out of them after the first period because the white conflicted with Cincinnati's white jerseys. While the Komets' front office had said the change was prompted by on-ice officials, the ECHL denied this Sunday and a Komets staff member concurred the decision was made in the Fort Wayne locker room.