The Komets showed a lot of good things Wednesday night, outshooting the league-leading Indy Fuel 36-20 at Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis.
But there were lapses, enough to cause a 4-1 loss to the Fuel in front of an announced crowd of 1,367. Indy's Nic Pierog had two goals, an assist and a fight with Fort Wayne's Morgan Adams-Moisan.
Komets goaltender Stefanos Lekkas gave up three goals on the first four shots he faced, and finished with 16 saves, in the first of 20 meetings with the Fuel this season.
“I'm not going to go into the paper and put that on the goalie,” Fort Wayne coach Ben Boudreau said. “I think that's more of a team thing. The first one was off a turnover. The second one was on a penalty kill. The third was the first shot of the second (period). And the fourth one needed to be saved. But I thought we played great. We're facing early adversity, there's no doubt.”
Boudreau was not just referencing starting the season two months after everyone else or having only played two regular-season games before facing the Fuel. The Komets woke up knowing they would only be able to play with 18 players in their lineup, one fewer than Indy, because of the two-game suspension for Stephen Harper's kneeing penalty last week. Then, Zach Pochiro and Anthony Nellis were moved into quarantine Wednesday because of COVID-19 protocols, though they've tested negative for the virus thus far.
And just 2:11 into the game, the Komets lost Marco Roy, who is in the concussion protocol after being upended by Joe Sullivan.
The lone Fort Wayne (0-1-2) goal came from Justin Vaive on a redirection during a power play against goalie Dan Bakala, who stopped 35 shots.
“To be honest, I thought we played a really good game in a lot of areas,” Boudreau said. “We found a way to generate on the power play to break through, but we just ran out of gas. You could see (a 16-3-1 Indy) team that's firing on all cylinders, playing its 20th game of the season, with us coming in short-handed and playing our third game. I mean, we were climbing into a steep mountain tonight and I'm really proud of how the guys played.”
The Komets next have their home opener 8 p.m. Friday against the Wheeling Nailers. The teams also meet 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 5 p.m. Sunday at the Coliseum.
The Allen County Department of Health on Wednesday approved an increase of 300 fans per home game for the Komets amid the pandemic. This means 2,919 people, or 27.9% normal capacity, can now attend. Tickets for the now-available seats go on sale 10 a.m. today.
“The Komet organization is happy to see that Allen County is continuing to trend in a positive mode regarding COVID-19. Having the additional seats will allow more Komet fans to attend home games in a safe manner,” Komets president Michael Franke said in a news release.
Notes: Fort Wayne native Jackson Leef and Marcus McIvor made their Komets debut. McIvor became the first Komets player since Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock, in 2015, to wear No. 79. Schrock was inducted into the team's Hall of Fame last year.