AP NEWS

Komets’ get no love from Wings in OT loss

February 15, 2019

KALAMAZOO, Mich. : Last season, the Komets couldn’t figure out how to consistently beat the Kalamazoo Wings, but they could afford to lose those games.

This season, they cannot.

Despite showing some physical intensity from the outset, testing Wings goaltender Jake Hildebrand with myriad shots and making a furious comeback late, the Komets lost 6-5 in overtime tonight in front of 3,021 fans at Wings Event Center.

Kyle Blaney got his own rebound and tucked a shot inside the right goalpost during the 3-on-3 overtime for the Wings, who were outshot 53-28 on home ice.

Fort Wayne is 3-5-1 against Kalamazoo. The teams are tied for third place in the Central Division.

The Wings (25-20-3) scored on 3 of 8 power plays and added a short-handed goal. The Komets (23-17-7) were 1 for 7 with a short-handed goal.

The Komets play host to the Adirondack Thunder at 8 p.m. Friday at Memorial Coliseum.

The ice at Wings Event Center was colored pink for Valentine’s Day : the Wings also honored 35 cancer survivors on the ice before the game : and the Wings are known for their ability to tinge their rink better than anyone. They annually do green ice for St. Patrick’s Day and orange for Halloween.

It didn’t take long for the Komets and Wings to show their adoration for one another; on the opening faceoff, Fort Wayne’s Taylor Crunk fought Kalamazoo’s Zach Saar, who connected on his first punch to drop Crunk to the ice, though Crunk was able to regain his footing to get a pop in.

After Kalamazoo’s Luke Sandler netted a goal 25 seconds into the game, beating netminder Zach Fucale on a wraparound, Saar fought Cody Sol at 6:25.

It was Fucale’s first game for the Komets since Jan. 5 : he had been with Chicago of the higher-level American Hockey League : and he was backed up by Lukas Hafner. That meant Eric Levine, who had been manning the net regularly, was a healthy scratch.

The Komets were also without Justin Hodgman (hand), Jordan Sims (hip), Garrett Clark and Marco Roy and Phelix Martineau, both of whom had been called to Laval of the AHL.

Quintin Lisoway netted his first goal with the Komets, in his third game with the team, with a shot from just inside the blue line 15:57. It was set up by Jason Binkley carrying the puck the length of the ice and dumping it in, then Ryan Siiro causing a turnover by checking Kyle Thomas in the corner.

Later in the period, the Komets failed to score on a 2-minute long 5-on-3 power play, despite many chances, and it would come back to haunt them. The Wings’ Brandon Anselmini made it 2-1 with a power-play goal 20 seconds into the second period with a shot from the left circle that went underneath Fucale’s arm.

Brady Shaw tied it at 2 with a breakaway goal, with his team skating short-handed at 11:27, but the Wings’ Michael Neal netted another power-play goal, off a rebound, for a 3-2 lead at 16:45.

And the Wings got retribution for Shaw’s short-handed goal 51 seconds into the third period, when Blaney netted a short-handed breakaway goal for a 4-2 lead after he’d stripped Ryan Lowney of the puck at the Fort Wayne blue line.

Mason Baptista answered for the Komets with a power-play goal at 4:05; his slapshot sent the rebound of a Sol shot into the net during a power play.

The Wings’ Chris Collins snuck behind the defense for a power-play goal at 10:56.

With Fucale pulled for an extra attacker, Jake Kamrass scored at 17:06 for the Komets by redirecting a J.C. Campagna shot to trim the Kalamazoo lead to 5-4. Shaw tied it at 5 with a shot from below the right circle at 18:58, just off a faceoff.

Last season, the Komets were 1-4-1 against the Wings yet finished second in the division.

jcohn@jg.net