FORT WAYNE, Ind. — The Fort Wayne Komets needed just 33 seconds to jump ahead of the Brampton Beast in a 4-2 victory.
It’s a good thing the first 20 seconds of overtime didn’t matter.
The Komets celebrated the win after regulation, forgetting that the exhibition would include a 3-on-3 overtime session no matter the score. Brampton didn’t take long to end the extra frame in the final preseason game for both teams.
“The game was so tight and intense I totally forgot that we were playing 3-on-3,” Fort Wayne head coach Gary Graham said. “We were already celebrating, we were like, ‘it’s the end of training camp,’ but then [public address announcer] Larry [Schmitt] says, ‘Yeah! It’s 3-on-3 just for practice,’ and you can see everybody like ‘uhhh.’
“I liked the three periods. Let’s put it that way.”
Curtis Leonard provided that early goal for the Komets, wristing a shot from the top of the left circle and getting a friendly deflection in traffic for the marker.
Fort Wayne failed to score on a pair of power plays before Brampton registered the equalizer on a defensive miscommunication.
Reggie Traccitto received a terrific pass from David Vallorani and patiently crept into the slot, rifling a wrister past Eric Hartzell. Luke Pither picked up the secondary assist.
“We had a blown assignment on a backcheck,” Graham said, adding it happened because the Komets had several new faces in the lineup.
In the second period — moments after Bryan Pitton stopped a 2-on-1 with two excellent saves — Fort Wayne’s Taylor Crunk knocked home a rebound of Will Weber‘s slapshot.
Shawn Szydlowski had a quiet night until he back-handed a breakaway past Andrew D’Agostini 69 seconds into the third frame. Mike Cazzola picked up the assist, giving the Komets a 3-1 advantage.
Luc-Olivier Blain cut into Fort Wayne’s lead with 3:43 remaining, but Kyle Thomas took advantage of an empty net as the final minute approached. He sped past two Brampton defenders, negated an icing and tapped in the game-sealing goal.
Although the Komets failed to score on their five power-play opportunities, the penalty kill unit successfully stopped Brampton’s four chances.
“You’re gonna take penalties, that’s part of the game,” Fort Wayne goalie Pat Nagle said. “But find a way to kill ’em, get that puck down there 200 feet, or if Hartzy or I gotta make a big save, or you see some of the guys making some big blocks tonight, that makes a world of difference for us.”
Nagle made nine saves in third period after replacing Hartzell, who stopped 19 shots over 40 minutes of work.
Pitton and D’Agostini had a near-even split in net for Brampton. Pitton tallied 16 saves, and D’Agostini turned away 13 shots.
Komets standouts Mike Embach and Cody Sol had the evening off. Dan Milan, who was in training camp with the AHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, played his first exhibition game with the team.
Entering the night, Fort Wayne’s roster stood at 25 players. The lineup will be trimmed by at least four prior to the Komets’ season opener, Friday, Oct. 14, on the road against the Quad City Mallards. Fort Wayne will host Quad City the following evening.
“Can’t wait,” Thomas said. “Now we’re done with the preseason. Now it’s on to the next chapter.”
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