When you’re playing your third game in as many nights, and your fourth in five, nothing is going to go according to script.
There’s just too much fatigue to do things exactly right.
You just have to grit your way through.
That’s what the Komets did in a messy, defensive-minded 2-1 overtime victory over the Kalamazoo Wings, in front of 6,161 fans at Memorial Coliseum on Sunday on a goal by defenseman Daniel Maggio.
Even the winning play was, well, interesting.
The Komets had the good fortune of a power play in extra time – Mitch Verteeg ran Ryan Lasch headfirst into the boards – but then Maggio broke his stick.
“I felt something and pushed down, and the stick broke in half. So I went to the bench, got a new one (with play going on), somehow got back, then shot and scored,” said Maggio, who has three goals and 11 points in 24 games this rookie season.
Maggio’s shot came from about 30 feet out on goaltender Joel Martin, who stopped 22 shots.
“It felt really good, yeah,” said Maggio, whose 13-10-2 Komets are on a 4-2-1 run. “I don’t even think (Martin) saw it. I think the Kalamazoo players screened him and I just put a shot on net and it went in.”
The Komets’ performance was lukewarm in the first two periods, when they were outshot 18-13 and gave up the first goal to Stefan Schneider, caused by a lazy defensive play behind the Fort Wayne net.
Center Brett Smith tied it during a 3-on-2 rush, after a pass from Lasch, which was soon followed by a fight between Smith and Joe Charlebois, who had elbowed Lasch.
In the last seven games, Lasch, an Anaheim Ducks prospect, has five goals and 13 points.
Goaltender Kenny Reiter stopped 21 shots for Fort Wayne, highlighted by four shots from point-blank range in the first period, when the Wings (11-12-3) had a 5-on-3 advantage.
“It was the fourth game in five nights for both teams and you could see both teams were tired and trying to do their best,” Fort Wayne coach Al Sims said. “Both teams got in penalty trouble at times because of the fatigue. It was a tough win. And after losing in overtime (at Wheeling, W.Va., on Saturday) night, it was good for us to get this one. Especially in our division.”
The game marked the return of forward Matt Kennedy, who had missed 15 games with a leg injury. He was scoreless and left in the third period with another, undisclosed injury. The Komets played without captain Colin Chaulk (shoulder) for a sixth straight game, Eric Giosa (ankle) and healthy scratches Stephon Thorne and Garrett Klotz.
“Both teams defended well,” Sims said.
“There weren’t a lot of breakaways or 2-on-1s, 3-on-2s, like you normally see. Everybody was focused on hoping one goal would be enough to win it. When they scored first, it put pressure on us to get the equalizer. Once we got that, we tried to win it.”