FORT WAYNE, IN — The Komets spent too much time undermanned for their liking, but a strong penalty kill helped them clip the Wheeling Nailers 2-1.
Pat Nagle was excellent, too.
“It starts with our goaltending right now,” head coach Gary Graham said after the game.
While the Komets—one of the league’s most penalized teams—killed off all six minors, Nagle stopped 29 shots and remained unbeaten in regulation this season. Granted, it took a small comeback to keep a blemish off his resume.
After a scoreless first period, Gage Quinney put Wheeling (28-23-6) in front with a sensational individual effort, splitting two Komets then deking Nagle for goal No. 11 on the year.
But Fort Wayne (35-15-7), which used a three-goal third period to beat the Nailers 4-3 Saturday night, evened the score before the second frame expired. With 2:07 remaining in the period, Mike Cazzola whipped a pass from the left boards to Brett Perlini, who was waiting by himself for a one-timer on the doorstep. It was his 15th goal of the season.
Less than 30 seconds into the third period, Cazzola took advantage of a Wheeling penalty and sniped Sean Maguire to give the Komets a 2-1 edge.
“Even though we didn’t get many power-play chances,” Graham said, “when we needed it we got it.”
Fort Wayne controlled the neutral zone for most of the game until the Nailers started to earn regular chances down the stretch. Nagle’s best save came around the seven-minute mark when he robbed Adam Krause‘s redirection in front of the net.
The Komets also killed off a late penalty, which included brief 6-on-4 action when the Nailers pulled Maguire.
“I thought we did a great job,” Nagle said. “Really prevented them from being on the rush. That’s where they can hurt us. They have a really skilled team, they’re quick, they find themselves in 2-on-1, 3-on-2 rushes.
“But we minimized those tonight and did a great job.”
The victory boosted Fort Wayne to 7-0-2 in its last nine games, though a 3-2 victory over the Brampton Beast allowed the Toledo Walleye to maintain its eight-point advantage over the Quad City Mallards in the Central Division.