The Fort Wayne Komets were bested by Jason Ralph 19 seconds into the third period, and that broke open what had been a tie game, and the Bloomington Prairie Thunder went on to defeat Fort Wayne 4-2 in the first game of a home-and-home series.
The goal came after one of Fort Wayne's players missed a defensive assignment, coach Al Sims said, allowing Ralph to just tip the puck in easily. Ralph added an empty-net goal later.
Fort Wayne had recovered from an early two-goal deficit, with Jason Sessa and Evgeny Saidachev scoring late in the second period to tie it at 2.
Sims was pleased with the effort, just not the result.
"We need more of the same (Saturday), but with a better finish," Sims said.
He said Bloomington goaltender Derek Dolsen, a former Komets player, was impressive in stopping 31 shots.
"It was just a game of missed opportunities for us," Sims said.
Before the game, the Komets signed right wing Mitch Woods, who played in juniors for Battlefords. He fought Sam Ftorek -- who looks like his father, former NHL coach Robbie, just without the sweater vest -- early in the game and Sims was pleased with his effort.
"He mixed it up, like he's supposed to," Sims said of Woods.
Meanwhile, defenseman Kevin Bertram, who had missed practice with a groin injury, was in the lineup.
The attendance at U.S. Cellular Coliseum was announced at 4,531, but it was unreal how many empty seats I could see over the B2 Networks pay-per-view feed. That was anything but a packed house.
During a second-period interview with Bob Chase on WOWO, 1190 AM, Komets general manager David Franke said there should be news soon on the impending signing of Brent Henley, a defenseman on last season's Fort Wayne team. I don't think there's anything new or newsworthy there, but I thought I'd mention it.
Watching tonight's game, it sure seems Fort Wayne and Bloomington don't like each other much already. It should be fun to see them go at it Saturday.
-- By Justin A. Cohn, The Journal Gazette