The Komets are missing, arguably, their top two offensive players. Brady Shaw is with Cleveland of the higher-level American Hockey League and Shawn St-Amant has an upper-body injury and expected out a few weeks.
So, maybe it’s not surprising that their offense has taken a hit lately.
The Komets lost 5-3 to the Brampton Beast today – a crowd of 7,819 was on hand to see it at Memorial Coliseum – and that gives Fort Wayne only 14 goals over its last five games.
A considerable amount of those goals have come with the Komets trying to claw out of a big hole on the scoreboard.
The Komets (15-10-4) are on an 0-3-2 winless streak.
Fort Wayne’s offense, which led the league in scoring just a few weeks ago, has fallen on hard times with myriad roster changes. There are three other injured Fort Wayne players – Brad Morrison, Taylor Ross, Will Petschenig – and one, Brad Ross, who left the team today to join a team in Germany.
The Beast’s David Vallorani, who has a league-leading five game-winning goals, opened the scoring at the end of an odd-man rush 7:01 into the first period.
It was an otherwise uneventful period that saw Fort Wayne’s Cole Kehler come up with a sliding save on Nathan Todd’s shot from point-blank range at 18:09.
The Komets’ Shawn Szydlowski tied it with a 40-foot shot 9:26 into the second period. The play for it began with Kyle Haas retrieving a rebound in front of his own net and faking with the puck to get it to Alan Lyszczarczyk, who fed Szydlowski in the offensive zone.
But the Beast (18-11-1) needed only 1:19 to regain its lead on a T.J. Melancon shot from the right circle that slipped just inside the goal post during a Brampton power play.
Brampton goalie Alex Dubeau, who played last season for Fort Wayne, maintained the 2-1 lead by thwarting a Matthew Boudens backhand from point-blank range at 11:49.
David Pacan gave Brampton a 3-1 lead with a wraparound goal 1:25 into the third period, on the heels of a Fort Wayne turnover in its own zone, and the shots were 25-13 at that point.
The Komets got back within a goal at 3:21, when a mad scramble to get to a loose rebound saw Brycen Martin flick a 15-foot shot past Dubeau.
Kehler robbed Todd again, on a shot from the left circle, at the end of a Brampton power play at 12:53.
But Kehler was beaten by a Daniel Leavens shot from the blue line that gave the Beast a 4-2 lead at 14:45.
Fort Wayne’s Lyszczarczyk scored off a rebound at 16:37, though, to again cut the Brampton lead to one goal. But Brampton’s Jackson Leef, a native of Fort Wayne, cemented the victory with an empty-net goal.
Kehler stopped 30 shots. Dubeau stopped 26.
This was the first of four games in five nights for the Komets, who play 7 p.m. Saturday in Kalamazoo, Michigan, against the Wings. The Komets return to the Coliseum for a 5 p.m. Sunday game against the Wings.
Notes: Shaw is scoreless in two games with Cleveland. … Brad Ross, who had three goals, five points and 42 penalty minutes in 15 games, was placed on team suspension so the Komets could maintain his rights. … The referee was Zane Stout. … Leef’s father, Ron, played for the Komets.