The Fort Wayne Komets have been looking for a few good minutes. Sixty of them, actually.
On Sunday night, they came pretty close to getting what they wanted.
In their most complete effort in weeks, the Western Conference-leading Komets defeated the Chicago Hounds 4-2 in the annual New Year's Eve game at Memorial Coliseum.
"That's as close to 60 minutes as we've played in (awhile)," Fort Wayne coach Pat Bingham said. "Well, it's never really 60 minutes. You're always looking for the elusive 60 minutes, the elusive perfect game with perfect decisions all over the ice. We made a great deal of them and carried momentum and play most of the game."
With the victory, the Komets improved to 33-13-4 all-time in Dec. 31 games at the Coliseum. This edition brought a plethora of special-teams actions -- Fort Wayne was 2 for 10 on the power play, Chicago was 2 for 9 -- and it helped erase the sting of Saturday's 3-2 shootout loss to the Kalamazoo Wings.
"Things are starting to come together, I think," Fort Wayne center J.C. Ruid said. "For a little while, we figured that we'd win games instead of working hard to win games. We're starting to come together as a team and believe that if we play the 60 minutes, we're going to win."
Chicago (11-17-1), which is coached by Greg Puhalski, the former Fort Wayne coach, opened the scoring 9:26 into the first period. Center B.J. Radoslovich redirected a Greg Koehler shot into the net during a 5-on-3 power play.
Ruid answered during a power play at 12:37, when he jammed the rebound of own shot past goaltender Marty Magers. One minute later, Magers got in a fight with Fort Wayne's Pascal Morency, much to the delight of the 9,413 fans in attendance.
Fort Wayne (19-10-1) went ahead 2-1 on Matt Syroczynski's goal from long range at 17:27 of the first period, and Ruid set up right wing Bogdan Rudenko for a power-play goal and a 3-1 lead at 17:35 of the second period.
The Komets cemented the game with right wing David Hukalo's goal, off a rebound, at 7:10 of the third period. The Hounds answered with a Bob Rapoza power-play goal at 10:11, but they couldn't get anything else, even though they pulled the goalie for a 6-on-3 advantage in the final 1:31 of play.
The Komets outshot the Hounds 45-25, including 16-2 in the first 17 minutes of play.
Fort Wayne goaltender Kevin St. Pierre made 23 saves. Magers stopped 35 of 39 shots, while his backup, Corey Wogtech, stopped all six shots he faced.
The Komets play Wednesday at Elmira, N.Y.
- I'm not going to really delve into officiating, since I'm absolutely sick of the subject, but there are three things I would like to point out: According to my interpretation of the rules, Magers should have gotten a misconduct for not having his jersey properly tied down, St. Pierre should have gotten a penalty for crossing the center-ice line, even though he didn't fight, and have you noticed how at the end of almost every game the number of power plays is close to equal for both teams? That's not a necessity, refs, so just call them as you see them and don't try to even things up.
- I thought it was really nice to see the players so appreciative of the fan turnout Sunday. The way they all stayed on the ice an extra second to thank the crowd was a touch this team should do more often.
- The game on Wednesday will not be on radio. Bob Chase will call the game Friday from Port Huron, Mich.
- Thanks to Icy D. Eagle for making an appearance in section 218. The kids there enjoyed it a lot.
-- By Justin A. Cohn, The Journal Gazette