The Journal Gazette
Sunday, February 21, 2021 1:00 am

Komets 4 Wheeling 2

'Stunning' Petruzzelli goal lifts Komets

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

Two moves. Both of them slick. In just two seconds.

And that was before Anthony Petruzzelli, the Komets' forward, even took a shot.

Petruzzelli sped into the Wheeling Nailers' zone and stick-handled to his right, then swerved back to his left, dusting Wheeling defenseman Evan Wardley twice before he fell to his knees. Then, Petruzzelli flicked a shot past goaltender François Brassard for a two-goal Fort Wayne lead early in the third period

Petruzzelli's magic boosted the Komets to a 4-2 victory at Memorial Coliseum on Friday night.

“I didn't know I had that in my toolbox, and it feels good,” Petruzzelli said.

Petruzzelli has two goals and five points, which is tied for the team lead with Olivier Galipeau, who along with Anthony Nellis set up Petruzzelli for his goal and a 3-1 advantage.

“Honestly, it's a little bit of a blur,” Petruzzelli said. “I got lucky, made a little dangle here and there, and next thing you know it's in the back of the net. You've got to put the puck on net to have a chance. It was a good pass from the D to get the thing right up and give me a chance to try and make a 1-on-1 play.”

Brandon Hawkins made it 4-1 with an empty-net goal and Wheeling's Austin Fyten finished the scoring.

Stefanos Lekkas stopped 22 shots for the Komets. Brassard, whose bevy of great plays included stops of Hawkins at the end of a 2-on-0 rush and Shawn Szydlowski from point-blank range, totaled 27 saves.

But Brassard seemed as mystified by Petruzzelli's shot as any of the 2,943 fans in attendance.

“I don't have any words, it was a stunning goal,” Fort Wayne coach Ben Boudreau said. “It was jaw dropping. It was a beautiful thing. But even more so, the timing of it was solid belief. Great players make big-time plays in big-time moments, and I thought Petey really stepped up tonight.”

The Komets (2-1-2 overall) are 2-0-2 against the Nailers (5-11-4), who they face 15 more times, beginning 5 p.m. today.

“I think the biggest thing is that our team is learning how to win,” said Boudreau, whose only loss in regulation time came Wednesday, 4-1 to the Indy Fuel. “We've gotten points in 4 of 5 games. That's great. I think we're on a roll and we're really starting to come together.”

Fort Wayne's Zach Pochiro opened the scoring 15:16 in the first period, poking it past Brassard as Pochiro was walloped from behind by Tyler Drevitch. Galipeau's 90-foot, cross-ice pass set up a goal by Matt Murphy, who streaked in from the blue line and snapped a shot from the right circle 1:17 into the second period for a 2-0 lead.

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