It’s not often that a loss may be relatively fan-friendly, but that was the case tonight at Memorial Coliseum.
Despite the Komets losing 4-3 in overtime, the 9,398 fans got to witness a couple of fights, one of which will be talked about for awhile, a Teddy Bear Toss, and a comeback from two goals down so Fort Wayne could salvage a point in the standings tonight.
“The M.O. of this lineup is we’re going to battle to the end,” Komets coach Ben Boudreau said.
Jason Binkley, just back from Cleveland of the higher-level American Hockey League, forced overtime by flicking the puck from the top of the right circle to take advantage of a Brett McKenzie screen.
In overtime, where the Komets are 5-3 this season, McKenzie had a chance to win it but was thwarted by goaltender Charles Williams (28 saves) from point-blank range. Seconds later, Indy’s Spencer Watson beat Cole Kehler (27 saves) to cement the victory.
“I’d rather have one point than no points,” Boudreau said. “I thought we did a great job of coming back. We had an opportunity to end it in overtime. They finished and we didn’t. That was the story of the game. I’m happy, I’m content, but I’m not jumping for joy.”
The Komets (15-10-2) have lost three in a row for the second time this season. The Fuel (13-13-0) got back to .500.
The first period was fan-friendly, if not friendly to the Komets’ chances of winning the game.
There was a fight between Fort Wayne’s Jermaine Loewen and Indy’s Jake Schultz that seemed to last an eternity – it clocked in at 57 seconds – and culminated with the players patting each other on the heads out of mutual respect. (Video of it is above.)
And A.J. Jenks, stationed in front of the net, scored a power-play goal that set off the annual Teddy Bear Toss. Thousands of stuffed animals littered the ice and will go to the non-profit Disorderly Bear Den.
However, Indy came out of the period with a 3-1 lead, thanks to goals by Jack Ramsey (power play), Dylan McLaughlin and Michael Doherty.
Kehler bailed out his teammates in the second period, stopping a point-blank shot when his team accidentally had only four skaters on the ice, and then foiling Derian Plouffe at the end of a 2-on-0 rush.
Taylor Ross thanked him by scoring for the Komets at 15:04 by redirecting a Taylor Doherty shot, after Ross had started the whole play with a no-look pass at the other side of the ice, and the Indy lead was down to 3-2.
There was another fight in the second period, between Fort Wayne’s Stephen Baylis and Michael Doherty.
Binkley’s tying goal came with Kehler pulled for an extra attacker 19:17 into the third period.
Before the game, Cleveland called up Brady Shaw, who led the Komets in points (32) and was second in goals (11) to Shawn St-Amant’s 14. St-Amant returned from an injury for this game but lasted only two shifts before reinjuring himself.
“We’re battling so much adversity right now. We have our leading scorer called up the day of the game and don’t have the healthy bodies to fill a lineup, to be honest with you,” Boudreau said. “We’re going through a lot of adversity. We’ve lost more players than we’ve added to the lineup in the last three weeks.”
The Komets play host to division-leading Cincinnati at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. The Komets will wear special PAW Patrol jerseys that will be auctioned off to benefit the charities chosen by the Fort Wayne Police and Fire Departments.
And the Komets seem to have the resiliency part down.
“There’s always belief. We have a great room in there and there’s belief, no matter what happens,” Boudreau said. “There’s a lot of positive energy on the bench. It just takes one shot and you keep chipping away, chipping away, chipping away. … I just think it’s the guys in the locker room. Hats off to them. They don’t want to take no for an answer and don’t want to lose games. They play a full 60 minutes. It’s encouraging to see, even though the results weren’t there tonight.”
Notes: The referee was Eric Krasnichuk. … Jenks had missed the previous five games with a leg injury. … Former Komets forward Garret Ross was traded from Jacksonville to Kalamazoo for future considerations. … The Komets played without Brad Morrison, Matthew Boudens, Will Petschenig, Brad Ross and Dylan Ferguson, all of whom had injuries.