FORT WAYNE – The puck was trickling toward the goal line when Kalamazoo goaltender Joel Martin blindly smacked it out of the crease in overtime Wednesday night. Soon after, at 3:32, Kalamazoo center Matt Caria snapped a shot above the blocker of Komets goaltender Ben Meisner for a 3-2 victory at Memorial Coliseum.
Worse than the loss for the Komets is they may be without their No. 1 goaltender, Andrey Makarov, for a while. He experienced concussion-like symptoms after a Wings player crashed into him 12 seconds into the third period.
Makarov, playing for the seventh time in eight games, stopped 21 of 22 shots. In relief, Meisner stopped 14 of 16, allowing the game-tying goal to defenseman Dustin Cloutier at the end of an odd-man rush at 10:22 of the third period.
It’s nice to get a point (in the standings), but we always aim to get the two points, said defenseman Joe Hartman, whose Komets (13-11-7) are on a 2-0-2 surge. We’re never satisfied with anything less than two points. This was a frustrating way to go down, two games in a row (in overtime), but there’s plenty of season left to rebound.
It was the first game back at Memorial Coliseum for former Komets captain Colin Chaulk, who is in his first season as an assistant coach with the Wings. Chaulk led the Komets to five championships in three different leagues between 2003 and his retirement last summer. Chaulk had wanted to be an assistant with the Komets but went to the Wings to work for head coach Nick Bootland, after Fort Wayne didn’t offer him the job.
For sure, it was weird. But it was nice that we had already played them three times in Kalamazoo. The first regular-season game in Kalamazoo, my heart was pumping and I wanted to throw the gear on and get out there. But I always remind myself, that’s probably not a good idea, said Chaulk, adding that the Komets’ equipment managers had left him a pregame care package in the visitors’ locker room.
They had a package ready for me, like hot coffee, gum, and all the nice little things I like. (Massage therapist) Steve Grogg put a nice little protein bar for me. They took good care of me. They were having fun with me being a coach, giving me the chewing gum, the ice cup, the water bottle and the nametag.
The Komets opened the scoring 9:05 into the first period, when forward Shawn Szydlowski put in a rebound. It was his first goal in his 22nd game with Fort Wayne.
It took the Wings only 30 seconds to respond with defenseman Brandon Martell’s goal from the left circle. While 5,884 tickets were sold to the game, which had been postponed Sunday because of inclement weather, just under 2,900 attended.
Making his debut for the Komets was forward Christian Ouellet, who was acquired along with forward Matt Carter from the Elmira Jackals on Monday for forward Mike Vaskivuo and defenseman Nik Pokulok.
Ouellet put the Komets up 2-1 at 18:47 of the second period, after weaving through three defenders. Carter was out with a minor injury.
We felt like that was a game we had to have, Komets captain Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock said. That’s a team we play three times in the next four games, and we wanted to get the first one. So it stings a little bit more. At the same time, we picked up a point in four consecutive games and that’s the positive.
Note: The Komets released forward Garrett Vermeersch, who had one assist in four games.