This time, the momentum shifted back with one play.
With the Fort Wayne Komets leading Reading 3-1 early in the third period Saturday night, rookie goaltender Andrey Makarov made an acrobatic save to end a Royals' rally. Second later, Mickey Lang got loose on a breakaway to score and stretch the Komets' lead to 4-1 on their way to a 7-2 decision over the defending ECHL champions.
``A team will feed off its goaltender and I think our team is no different,'' Komets coach Gary Graham said by phone from Reading. ``We get those big saves and a lot of times we can use those as a spark to create a wave of momentum for us.''
The win was especially big for the Komets after a disappointing shootout loss in Elmira on Friday night.
The forward line of Chris Auger, Brandon Marino and Scott Fleming was outstanding all game on Saturday, combing for five goals, three assists and a plus-11 rating. Marino and Auger each scored twice, Fleming, Lang and Mike Vaskivuo scored one apiece as the Komets set a season-high for goals in game. Jace Coyle also had three assists and Jordon Southorn two.
``The seven goals was something pretty special, but for us it was about the two goals we allowed,'' Graham said. ``That's the number we know we need to be a successful team. We've been working hard on that in practice and in the video room. To keep an offensive team like Reading down to two goals was huge for us tonight.''
Makarov, a 20-year-old rookie, finished with 31 saves. The Komets were out-shot 33-31, but they led the category 14-4 after the first period.
Reading continued to have trouble against the Fort Wayne forecheck and neutral zone coverage all night.
``Urgency was a big part of what we talked about before the game,'' Graham said. ``I'm tired of sounding like a broken record, but one point isn't good enough. We want two points and we need to go after them.''
After the game, the Komets got back on the bus for the 3 1/2-hour ride back to Elmira for Sunday's 4 p.m. rematch with the Jackals.