KALAMAZOO, Mich. – Maybe the Fort Wayne Komets should take days off more often.
Playing their ninth game in 15 days, the Komets looked remarkably fresh in beating the Kalamazoo Wings 5-3 on Friday night. After a miserable effort in Wednesday's 4-1 home loss to Cincinnati, coach Al Sims gave his boys Thursday off, and they responded.
``We seemed rejuvenated, and everybody really contributed,'' Sims said.
Here's how much different the Komets played compared with Wednesday: They won despite goaltender Kenny Reiter having a self-described bad game. The Komets outshot the Wings 29-19 and held them to four shots through 30 minutes and only 11 through the first 50 minutes.
Kalamazoo had only four shots on goal in the first period, three on the power play. The Wings' first shot of the second period didn't come until almost 13 minutes had been played, and their first shot of the third period came after eight minutes of play.
``We tried to do the little things tonight, get it behind their defense and wear them out,'' forward Josh Brittain said. `` We had a day off yesterday and it showed. We were able to recover and do the right things as a team. We have to continue that way tomorrow and get a good finish before the Christmas break.''
They played as a team all over the ice with great puck support and rarely throwing turnovers. The only time there was a breakdown came during a two-minute stretch in the second period when Brent Henley and Brandon Marino took penalties to give the Wings a two-man-advantage power play. Kalamazoo scored a goal to gain momentum and then another to tie the game, but the Komets stayed with the game plan and continued to dominate.
Fort Wayne scored three goals in the third period by playing defense-first.
``In the third period, we knew we had to win a period to win the game, and we went out and did it,'' Sims said. ``They didn't get any breakaways, two on ones, nothing. Our forwards refused to give the puck away. When you play 70 to 80 percent in the other end, they can't do anything.''
Sims also mixed up his lines again, and each scored. Brett Smith centered Thomas Beauregard and Ryan Lasch, Eric Giosa centered Brittain and Brandon Marino, and the "Redrum" line of J.M. Rizk, Stephon Thorne and Kaleigh Schrock were reunited.
``I told them to try and shut down (Kalamazoo's Eric) Kattelus, and I told they would probably score a goal if they did,'' Sims said.
Kattelus got a goal on the two-man advantage power play, but Redrum dominated everything else. Their goal came off a breakaway by Schrock, one of defenseman Brent Henley's three assists.
``It was good to play with guys that you know,'' Rizk said. ``They make it easy for me.''
Friday night, the Komets all played together and made it easy for each other.