FORT WAYNE, Ind. – For the third consecutive week the Komets earned five points posting a 2-1-1 record and improving to 23-15-11 for 57 points. Fort Wayne trails North Division leader Kalamazoo by three points with 23 games remaining.
Week 18 in review— The week began when the Komets doubled-up the Cyclones at Cincinnati Wednesday 4-2. Komet goaltender Ben Meisner extended his unbeaten streak to 5-0-1 and pushed his road winning streak to six games and remains unbeaten on the road this season after stopping 23 of 25 shots for his seventh Fort Wayne win of the season. Mike Embach (LW) netted his first hat trick of the season and his second as a pro. Brandon Marino (RW) scored his fifth game winner (league high) and reached 60 points on the season for the third straight year.
Friday the Komets were edged 3-2 in a shootout at Cincinnati but extended their point streak to a season-high eight games (5-0-3). Dean Ouellet scored his first Fort Wayne career goal and Marino tallied his 21st of the season while Andrey Makarov suffered the shootout loss making 31 saves. 8,014 attended the game for the most attended pro hockey game in America for the night.
Saturday at Kalamazoo the Komets fell 5-2. It was the ninth meeting of the season (3-3-3) with five matches remaining against the Wings. Christian Ouellet (RW) and Jordon Southorn scored while Makarov suffered his first regulation loss in five starts.
Sunday the Komets capped a five-point week by snapping Wheeling’s win streak at three games with a 4-3 home win in front of 7,526. Fort Wayne extended their home point streak to five games (2-0-3). Marino registered his sixth three-point game dishing three assists. Matt Carter (LW) netted a pair including the game winner while Chris Auger (C) and Shawn Szydlowski (RW) contributed goals. Makarov stopped 20 of 23 shots in his third straight start. The netminder earned his 14th win of the season and has not been beaten at home in regulation after seven starts (4-0-1-2). The Komets are now 17-0-2 when scoring four or more goals in a game. The Komets complete their season series with the Nailers at 2-1-1.
Milestones— Wednesday’s 4-2 win at Cincinnati gave the Komets their 5200th standings point since the club was established in Fort Wayne in 1952……Auger posted his 100th Fort Wayne career point with his first assist Friday at Cincinnati…..This Wednesday’s game at Florida will mark the Komets’ 2,300th regular season road game since the first Fort Wayne road game Saturday, Oct. 25, 1952.
The week ahead— The Komets enter week 19 tied with Florida (26-17-5, 57 points) for sixth place in the tight Eastern Conference race for playoff position, setting up a critical showdown this week at Florida. The Komets visit for a three-game set against the Everblades beginning Wednesday at Germain Arena (7,186) in Estero, Florida near Fort Myers. The series at Florida continues Friday with a 7:30pm faceoff and concludes Saturday at 7pm. The Everblades scored a 3-0 shut out victory at South Carolina Sunday in their last time out to finish a 1-1-1 week and improve to 4-2-2 in their last eight games. Florida owns a 9-8-4 home record while the Komets are 14-9-2 on the road. The Komets are 1-1-0 after two meetings with the Everblades in Fort Wayne this season. Following the three-game set at Florida this week the Komets will host the Everblades for a weekend double-header March 14 and 15 to conclude the season series.
Komet leaders— Marino continues to lead the ECHL with 44 assists and 65 points…..Auger leads the Komets with 23 goals…..defenseman Simon Danis-Pepin leads with +14…..Meisner leads with a 2.27 goals-against average and .924 save percentage after 12 Fort Wayne appearances.