TOLEDO, Ohio – At this point, even the Komets wouldn’t begrudge the Toledo Walleye for gloating.
Toledo, which pounded Fort Wayne 7-1 tonight, has victories in all nine meetings this season with a 41-18 edge in goals.
“We showed up expecting to fight a match in the featherweight division and we got the heavyweight title thrown at us,” Fort Wayne coach Ben Boudreau said. “They should be gloating and celebrating because they absolutely embarrassed us. They deserved everything they got and we deserved everything we got.”
A couple of subpar practices this week had already been worrisome signs for the Komets, but things got way worse tonight as Toledo scored on 3 of 5 power plays and Fort Wayne was 0 for 3 in front of 7,874 fans at the Huntington Center.
The sting would have been much worse if it wasn’t so familiar. The Komets have gotten only two of a possible 18 points in the season series, thanks to twice losing in overtime shootouts.
“You can see the trend throughout the week, usually in practice, and (Thursday) we had one of our worst practices of the year. This morning’s wasn’t great either. We follow that into here,” said Shawn Szydlowski, who had Fort Wayne’s lone goal off a rebound and cut Toledo’s lead to 2-1 at 8:52 of the first period.
“Granted, we’ve played a lot of hockey games lately and that definitely affects guys. Bodies are hurting and sore, but there are no excuses because everybody’s in the same boat. It’s a will-to-win thing for us.”
Boudreau was less even-tempered, especially when talking about the lapse in which Toledo (33-15-5) scored three times in the span of four shots to take a 5-1 lead in the second period.
“If there was a big red button labeled ‘self destruct,’ we couldn’t hit it more than a million times,” Boudreau said. “Self destruct, we do it to ourselves. It’s embarrassing to watch our team do it and come back to the bench and get down on each other, instead of building each other up. It’s a scary, scary trend that we’ve got going and we got the living (expletive) kicked out of us tonight and we deserved it.”
The Komets (27-22-8) allowed two goals on Toledo’s first three shots, with Kyle Bonis netting a one-timer at the end of a 3-on-3 rush and Nolan Gluchowski scoring at the end of a 2-on-1 rush.
“We abandoned every game plan that we had going into tonight. It’s on them,” Boudreau said, motioning to the players. “We weren’t dialed in. We weren’t ready. For us, we’re trying to do everything different ways. Nine losses in a row to these guys. We’ve tried one way or the other. … Unless everybody shows up ready to go, we’re not going to give ourselves a chance.”
Komets goaltender Patrick Munson was pulled after stopping 20 of 26 shots through two periods. He was mostly defenseless as Bonis put a backhand shot through his legs; Gregor MacLeod cashed in after an Olivier Galipeau turnover; MacLeod scored on a one-timer from the right circle; and Joshua Winquist netted a 45-foot shot.
Munson’s replacement, Cole Kehler, stopped 7 of 8 shots in the third period. Toledo’s Billy Christopoulos stopped 37 of 38.
“It’s just lack of execution on our part, to be honest,” Szydlowski said. “We know we haven’t done good against these guys all year. If we keep internally putting so much pressure on ourselves, ‘Oh, we’ve got to beat these guys,’ then everyone is gripping the sticks and everyone is maybe trying to do too much sometimes. It comes down to a will to win. We implode sometimes like this.”
As part of DC Comics Night, the Walleye wore Batman jerseys in the first period, Aquaman in the second and Superman in the third. The teams meet here again 7:15 p.m. Saturday, when the Komets probably must win to keep alive any dwindling hopes of getting second place in the division. The third-place Komets are nine points back of Toledo, and five points up on Indy, with 15 games left in the regular season.
Notes: The Komets got forward Drake Rymsha back from Ontario of the American Hockey League, where he has one assist in 11 games this season. … The Komets traded forward Gage Torrel to Florida for an undisclosed amount of cash. … Boudreau said Kyle Haas and Stephen Baylis will be in the lineup Saturday. ... Wearing three different jerseys in a game wasn't a first for the Walleye.