Walleye Fall to Komets, 4-1, in Chippy Road Contest
FORT WAYNE, Ind. - A tight battle between the Toledo Walleye and Fort Wayne Komets saw the two teams in a 0-0 stalemate through two periods in Fort Wayne Saturday night, but the Walleye's five-game road win streak came to an end at Memorial Coliseum as the Komets scored four goals in the final frame to earn the 4-1 victory.
Penalties proved costly for the Fish as the Komets netted three power play goals in the deciding period. Toledo's seven-game unbeaten in regulation streak dating back to Dec. 17 fell as the Walleye moved to 19-7-2 on the season.
The Walleye and Komets played a scoreless first period behind strong play from both goaltenders. Fort Wayne took nine shots to Toledo's seven as both goaltenders saved every shot coming their way. Brandon Hawkins received the only penalty in a clean opening frame, entering the penalty box for slashing at the 15:50 mark, but the Komets could not score on the power play, leading to a 0-0 score heading into the first intermission.
The second period saw more of the same in the scoring column with the intensity turned up a notch. The Walleye outshot the Komets, 12-10, in the period to bring the overall shots to 19 apiece. Meanwhile, early in the second period, Butrus Ghafari and Connor Jones got into a scuffle that resulted in both players serving roughing penalties at the 5:23 mark.
Ten minutes later, Jones pulled Ghafari's helmet off and returned to the penalty box for another roughing minor. Toledo had multiple scoring opportunities in their first power play of the game, but Komets goaltender Liam Hughes made several big saves to keep the Walleye out of the net during the two-minute power play.
Chris Martenet picked up the final penalty of the period at 18:20 for tripping, and the Walleye and Komets ended the middle period scoreless. The Fort Wayne power play extended into the first 20 seconds of the third period, but the Walleye came away unscathed as the Fish earned the penalty kill.
The Komets broke the tie in dominating fashion, exploding for four straight goals in the third period to take the 4-0 advantage. Shawn Szydlowski netted the first goal with 4:20 gone with help from Matt Murphy and Marcus McIvor. Brandon Hawkins was then called for high-sticking at the 6:14 mark, and Matt Alvaro scored the first of three power play goals for the Komets with just six seconds left in the penalty. Zach Pochiro and Stephen Harper assisted as the Komets took the 2-0 lead.
At 11:21, Matt Murphy entered the penalty box for interference. Then, at 12:12, tensions boiled over as a large fight broke out between the Walleye and Komets. Mitchell Heard and Chays Ruddy were sent to the penalty box once the scuffle ended. Ruddy was called for cross-checking and Heard received a roughing double minor. Kyle Bonis served the extra penalty for Toledo.
The contest continued with four-on-four hockey until Brandon Hawkins was called for interference on the goalkeeper after running into Liam Hughes at 13:21. Just 13 seconds later, Stephen Harper got his first of two power play goals in less than a minute, both coming with a five-on-three Komets advantage. Zach Pochiro and Oliver Cooper provided the assists.
The Komets continued on the power play, this time with a five-on-four advantage, before Toledo lost another skater to the penalty box. Chris Martenet was called for cross-checking at 14:08, and it only took three seconds for Harper to score again to make the score 4-0. Pochiro and Connor Jones provided the helpers as Fort Wayne took their largest lead of the game.
Tempers flared once again just before the 17-minute mark as Zach Tolkinen took down Conlan Keenan, resulting in another skirmish between the two teams. Tolkinen received a double minor for his role, and Tyler Busch was handed a ten-minute misconduct for continuing the altercation. The Walleye went on the power play for the remainder of the contest following the penalties.
While the outcome had already been decided late in the game, Toledo looked to avoid their second shutout of the season, and Brady Tomlak delivered with 12 seconds to play with his sixth goal of the year. Austin McIlmurray and Ryan Lowney tallied the assists, with Lowney earning his first Walleye point on the helper. Game time expired along with Toledo's five-game road win streak, their longest this season.
The Komets outshot the Walleye, 34-27, behind a dominant third period where Fort Wayne took 15 shots to Toledo's eight. Fort Wayne had six power play opportunities, converting on three, while Toledo scored on one of their three chances.
Liam Hughes earned the victory for Fort Wayne in his first professional game, saving 26-of-27 shots in the near-shutout effort. Max Milosek was credited with the loss despite a 30-save effort in his Walleye debut.
The Walleye will look to avenge tonight's contest tomorrow evening when they take on the Komets for the third time in five days. Puck drop from the Huntington Center is set for 5:15 p.m.
Fort Wayne - Liam Hughes (W, 26 saves)
Fort Wayne - Stephen Harper (two power play goals, assist)
Fort Wayne - Zach Pochiro (three assists)
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