FORT WAYNE – Over the course of their six-game losing streak, the Komets have made a lot of opposing goaltenders look good.
Frankly, an empty net wouldn’t look bad against the Komets’ woeful offense these days.
Including Friday night’s 3-1 loss to Cincinnati in front of 7,678 fans at Memorial Coliseum, Fort Wayne has scored only nine goals during the slump. Fort Wayne has dropped to 11th place in the Eastern Conference, eight points out of the eighth and final playoff spot with 17 games remaining.
One goal is going to win very few hockey games, Komets coach Al Sims said.
Matt Syroczynski missed the net entirely from point-blank range. Leading scorer Brandon Marino had a breakaway and didn’t get a shot off until he was past the net. Jean-Michel Rizk had a breakaway and missed the net, and he had a shot from 8 feet out gloved by Cyclones goaltender Michael Houser, who stopped 21 of 22 shots.
The lone Fort Wayne (26-27-2) goal came from Jamie Milam on a power play. The Komets’ power-play unit is ranked last in the 23-team ECHL but was 1 for 6.
The North Division-leading Cyclones (32-17-6) got goals, in order, from David Pacan, Josh Shalla and Patrick Cehlin, who scored into an empty net. The Cyclones have won 6 of 7 games, and they finished 5-2-2 in the season series with the Komets.
Shalla’s game-winning goal in the third period came after Fort Wayne captain Colin Chaulk swiveled to clear the puck up the boards but instead turned it over by shooting it off the side of his own net.
I don’t know how many other ways we can find to lose, Sims said. It would be different if Cincinnati made a nice play and scored, but it’s just the way the puck’s been falling for us. We had some great chances, though.
The days leading up to the game didn’t see mass changes.
Physical defenseman Brent Henley was dealt Wednesday to Florida for cash, and the Komets signed 27-year-old defenseman Michael Jordan, 5-foot-9, 165 pounds, who had four goals and 10 points in 21 games with Danville of the Federal Hockey League.
The Anaheim Ducks assigned goaltender Jeff Deslaurier, who has played 62 NHL games, to Fort Wayne, and forward Matt Kennedy was returned by the American Hockey League’s Norfolk Admirals, for whom he was scoreless in nine games.
The Komets were decimated by injuries to forwards Mike Hoban (back) and John Dunbar (ankle), defenseman Scott Kishel (hand), and goalie Marco Cousineau (groin). Forward Garrett Klotz was a healthy scratch.
Making matters worse, the AHL’s Lake Erie Monsters informed the Komets that rookie defenseman Daniel Maggio will probably not be returned to Fort Wayne this season.
Deslauriers stopped 28 of 30 shots for the Komets, who play tonight at Toledo.
I don’t make the decisions, and it’s not something I can control, Deslauriers said of going straight from Anaheim to the AA-level Komets. It’s boring at certain times to just focus on what I can control, but the reality is, it is what it is.
You try to make the best of things, even if you don’t like the decisions (made for you)