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Komets upend Wheeling 4-3

The Komes defeated the Wheeling Nailers 4-3 on Feb. 16, 2014, at Memorial Coliseum

K's savor home win

Matt Carter scored twice and Brandon Marino had three assists, as the Komets defeated the Wheeling Nailers 4-3 at Memorial Coliseum today.

Fort Wayne is 6-1-3 in its last 10 games, while Wheeling lost for only the second time in its last six games.

"It was important to not only get two points but to make sure Wheeling didn't get any points," Fort Wayne coach Gary Graham said. "We had a heavy work week with games four out of five days, and they had the same thing, and there would be no excuses. Everyone is scratching and clawing for position in the conference."

(Click here to see photos from the game.)

Wheeling opened the scoring on its first shot of the game, at 6:46 of the first period, after Fort Wayne's Jordon Southorn coughed up the puck at his own blue line. That allowed Denver Manderson to break toward the Fort Wayne net, but Simon Danis-Pepin dislodged the puck. Still, Wheeling's Zach Torquato was able to send a pass to Max MacKay for a goal into an open net.

The Komets tied it at 14:27, when Carter broke behind the defense, drew goalie Peter Mannino to the ice and then sent the puck above his outstretched glove.

"I saw (Marino) coming down the ice with me and I think the goalie thought I was going to try and make the pass to him or just shoot it. I just pulled it around and saw an empty net, so that's where I put it," Carter said.

Mannino has played six NHL games with the New York Islanders, Atlanta Thrashers and Winnipeg Jets, going 1-1-0 with a 3.99 goals-against average and a .882 save percentage.

After the Carter goal, Fort Wayne captain Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock fought Justin Smith.

The game was back and forth but scoreless in the second period, when Fort Wayne outshot Wheeling 12-6.

Marino skated down the left wing, then pulled up and streaked to center ice before sending a pass to Chris Auger, who flipped the puck over Mannino for a 2-1 lead 4:17 into the third period.

Auger is second in the league with 23 goals, six back of Orlando's Mickey Lang, who began the season with the Komets.

After a Wheeling turnover at center ice, Fort Wayne forward Shawn Szydlowski made it 3-1 by snapping a high shot from the right circle at 5:33.

The Nailers' Mike Ratchuk, who had coughed up the puck on that play, atoned at 9:02 with a power-play goal from 40 feet out.

With a delayed penalty coming on the Nailers, Marino's pass out of the left corner set up Carter for a slap shot goal and a 4-2 lead at 13:27. Marino leads the ECHL with 65 points, including 44 assists, in 49 games this season.

Torquato finished the scoring for Wheeling, on a power play, with 59 seconds left in the game.

"Winning the third period on home ice, that's got to be the headline," Graham said. "We've had our difficulties in the third period, but tonight it was our best period. … That last minute, we had more anxiety for the coach, but the guys found a way to get it done."

Notes: The Komets played without Scott Fleming (ankle), Jason Dale (groin) and Nathan Martine (healthy). … The Komets improved to 2-1-1 against the Nailers this season.

Justin A. Cohn, pro sports coordinator for The Journal Gazette, has been covering the Fort Wayne Komets since 1997. His reporting includes game stories from home and away, features about the players and personalities associated with the Komets, plus coverage of issues affecting hockey at all levels. A native of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Cohn graduated from Emory University in Atlanta. He can be reached at 260-461-8429 or by email at jcohn@jg.net.

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