FORT WAYNE – The goal Brandon Marino scored Friday night came off a blistering shot from the top of the left circle. It wasn’t totally unlike many of his other goals with the Komets – he has 43 in 130 games – but what made it somewhat unique is what happened away from the puck at Memorial Coliseum.
Teammate Sy Nutkevitch was charging toward the net, on an almost parallel line to the puck, distracting Florida goaltender Mac Carruth enough that he had to defend against the puck and Nutkevitch’s attempt to redirect it as it crossed into the goal mouth.
The Komets went on to defeat the Everblades 5-2 and take sole possession of seventh place in the Eastern Conference.
The top eight teams will make the playoffs and Fort Wayne, with 14 games left in the regular season, was to play host to Florida again Saturday night.
In preparing for the game, the Komets were able to focus on the lessons of Friday, not just from the Marino goal but also others after a scoreless first period.
There were goals to be had in the first but we weren’t anywhere near the rebounds, Komets coach Gary Graham said. We had to start getting to the net more. The guys started driving the net.
There was a goal by Shawn Szydlowski, who charged toward the net to get to a Nutkevitch pass and pound it in. There was a goal from Nutkevitch, who got to the rebound off a Mike Embach shot. Mitch Bruijsten redirected a Nathan Maione shot into the net.
Not all the Komets’ goals were pretty, but they were gritty and effective, just the type of style a team facing injuries need to use.
The Komets were already without Dean Ouellet (head), Scott Fleming (foot), Matt Carter (groin), Jason Dale (groin) and Christian Ouellet (leg), and it looked as if Chris Auger would be unavailable Saturday because of an upper-body injury.
We have to put this in our bag of tricks more consistently, just that approach that we’re going to shoot it, drive and crash the net, said Graham, whose team plays today at Toledo.
Heading into Saturday, the Komets were 27-20-11 and trying to avoid missing the playoffs for a second straight year, while the Everblades were 28-23-7.
The Komets were 10-8-9 at the Coliseum and hoping that goaltender Ben Meisner, who stopped 39 shots Friday, could help keep the turnaround on home ice going. Meisner had won 9 of 10 games on the road but only 2 of 7 at the Coliseum.
You don’t want to say it, but he almost plays better sometimes the more shots he (faces), Graham said. That goes back to his college days when he was at (American International) and they would average 40 or 50 shots against. We don’t want to be giving up that many shots, obviously, and have to button up some things, but early on it got him into a rhythm (Friday).