A late first period goal and two second period strikes put the Evansville IceMen in a two-goal hole they could not climb out of as they fell to the Fort Wayne Komets by a score of 4-2 at the Ford Center.
The loss sent the IceMen (8-10-1-1, 18 points) into sixth place in the North Division. Fort Wayne (17-4-0-0) regained the top spot in the division with a league-best 34 points.
Late in the first period, Evansville claimed the lead. In his IceMen debut, Colin Murray knocked the puck away from a Komet to Kale Kerbashian. The IceMen's leader in points carried the puck behind the net. Kebashian then passed it to a hard charging Peter Sakaris who smacked it past Pat Nagle to give the IceMen a 1-0 lead. Kerbashian picked up his 10th assist of the season on Sakaris' fourth goal of the year.
With less than a minute remaining in the first period, Fort Wayne's Eric Faille stole the puck. He then found Shawn Szydlowski on a saucer pass that gave the Komets a breakaway behind the IceMen defense. Szydlowski beat Chris Driedger one-on-one to tie the game at one going into the first intermission.
The Komets carried the momentum into the second period, where they scored two goals. First, Garrett Meurs put in a slap shot under two minutes into the second period. With just over two minutes to go in the frame, Matthew Pistilli lit the lamp on a give-and-go with Thomas Frazee to put the Komets up 3-1 after two.
In the third period, Evansville fought back. On a power play, Jarret Lukin found Danny Hobbs on a cross-crease feed. The returning Hobbs blasted in his third of the season to cut the Fort Wayne lead to 3-2.
On the next shift, the Komets answered. Frazee scored from the high slot to put the Komets back up by two only 15 seconds after Hobbs' power play tally. Frazee's sixth goal of the year clinched a 4-2 win for the Komets.
Driedger's record moves to 5-7-0-1 on the season as he stopped 30 of the 34 shots he faced. His counterpart, Nagle, picked up his 11th win of the season, turning away 24 pucks.
The IceMen and Komets clash again tomorrow night at 7:15 p.m. inside the Ford center. Stop by D-Patrick Downtown before the game for the first ever IceMen tailgate party from 4-7 p.m. There will be free hot dogs, face painting, and heaters to keep fans warm.
Saturday night will also be the annual Teddy Bear Toss at the Ford Center. Buy a teddy bear and throw it on the ice when the IceMen score their first goal of the game. These teddy bears will then be donated to 9-1-1 Gives Hope.