FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The Elmira Jackals wiped out a 3-0 deficit on the road against the Fort Wayne Komets on Friday night at Memorial Coliseum and picked up a 4-3 overtime win. Dane Walters scored his first OT winner with 1:16 left in the extra session to improve Elmira’s record to 15-22-4 on the season.
A big part of Elmira’s game plan was to get out to a fast start against the Komets and they appeared to be well on their way. The Jackals launched four shots on Komets goalie Ben Meisner over the first two minutes of play and then earned the games first power play 2:08. The advantage afforded the Jackals two more shots, both quality scoring chances, but Meisner continued to turn them away. The netminder’s strong work early allowed Fort Wayne’s offense to find its bearings and net a pair in the opening frame. Defenseman Jace Coyle picked up both with the first on the power play at 7:22 and the second at even strength at 11:30.
The Jackals were in hot water to start the second period because of a late first-period tripping minor to Patch Alber, but they killed off the remaining time and got the game back to five skaters each. Not long after the Jackals’ first power play chance of the second went by the wayside the Komets scored off the rush to stretch their lead to three. After taking a drop pass from Brandon Mario, Jason Dale cut to the right and shot back against the great to beat Neil Conway for his second goal of the season. In need of a momentum shift, Elmira got just what it was looking for thanks to a scrap from Corey Bellamy who challenged Fort Wayne captain Kaleigh Schrock. Just over three minutes after the tilt Mike Vaskivuo slammed home his 12th of the year with assists to Artem Demkov and Jakub Culek. Just 1:52 later it was Demkov returning the favor by punching home a centering feed from Vaskivuo to pull the Jackals within one heading into the third.
Culek, who saw each of his linemates score in the second-period rally, didn’t want to be left out of the mix in the third. He made a nifty move as he carried the puck down the right wing and beat a defender to the goal. Culek then chipped a shot over Meisner’s shoulder for the tying score at 7:34. Demkov and Vaskivuo assisted. Elmira was under siege for most of the rest of the third as the Komets built up a 12-5 shot advantage. Conway was at his best when his team needed him the most and preserved the tie score to force overtime.
In the extra session the Jackals were more persistent and outshot the Komets 4-2. The final one, from Walters, proved to be the final nail in Fort Wayne’s coffin. Jordan Pietrus chased down a Troy Rutkowski dump in and sizzled a pass to Walters in front who hit paydirt for his fourth goal of the year.
Vaskivuo (1 goal, 2 assists) ended the night with his third straight three-point game for the Jackals while Demkov (1 goal, 2 assists) and Culek (1 goal, 1 assist) earned multi-point games for the second straight night.
Conway’s 37-save effort netted him his third win in a row for the Jackals. Elmira ended the night 0-for-5 on the power play and 5-for-6 on the penalty kill.