Mallards’ C.J. Motte steals a win from Komets

Quad City goaltender C.J. Motte throws a pad out to stop a first period shot from Fort Wayne's Mason Baptista. (By Blake Sebring of News-Sentinel.com)
C.J. Motte throws out the blocker to fight off a first-period shot from Shawn Szydlowski. (By Blake Sebring of News-Sentinel.com)
Kyle Bigos goes after Komets forward Marc-Olivier Roy during the second period. (By Blake Sebring of News-Sentinel.com)
Bigos going after Roy resulted in this dogpile. (By Blake Sebring of News-Sentinel.com)
Komets winger Trevor Cheek slides over to block a shot by Quad City's Tristan King. (By Blake Sebring of News-Sentinel.com)
Quad City's Tristan King lifts a backhand over the shoulder of Komets goaltender Garrett Bartus. (By Blake Sebring of The News-Sentinel.com)

After scoring 70 goals over their last 12 games, the Fort Wayne Komets could have scored 10 more on Sunday, and probably would have against any other goaltender.

Instead, Quad City’s C.J. Motte stoned them, making 60 saves during regulation and overtime and then stopping all three shootout participants in a 4-3 decision for the Mallards. A Memorial Coliseum crowd of 7,421 went home unhappy, but they really couldn’t be too disappointed. The Komets finished the week with seven of a possible eight points.

“I tell you what, I couldn’t be prouder of the guys,” Komets coach Gary Graham said. “It was a tough schedule this week.”

Motte was amazingly acrobatic and athletic, and he stunned the crowd with probably a dozen magical saves. He made three saves of the year during the third period alone. Off one scramble play, he went from one side of his net to the other and back again to throw up his glove and rob Mason Baptista who shooting into a wide-open net when he let it go.

In fact, it took the Komets 48 shots before they finally scored a goal late in the second period. Fort Wayne had 29 shots during the second stanza, and usually, there was a Komet trying to screen Motte or go for deflections on every shot. It seemed like Motte had a Plexiglass shield behind him closing off the net, but he was simply that good. As Mallards broadcaster Brian Lavelle said, it almost looked like the puck was sticking to Motte.

The Fort Wayne record for shots in a period is 32 and in a game is 80, both set March 27, 1965, against Dayton. The Komets let loose 76 shots toward the net through two periods compared to only 21 for the Mallards.

“To me, we had two faceoff mistakes, and they scored two goals,” Graham said. “It’s discouraging for us to give up the lead on that faceoff play. They guys understand what happened.”

After Dennis Kravchenko finally gave Fort Wayne the lead with 3:12 left, the Mallards’ Tristan King scored his second of the game with 2:39 left to force overtime.

The rough part for the Komets is that they lost a point in the race with Toledo for the ECHL’s Central Division lead as the Walleye beat Wichita 1-0 to go 8-0-1 over their last nine games. The Komets are 10-1-1 over their last 12 games, ending a six-game winning streak, and trail the Walleye by three points. Fort Wayne has tied Colorado for second place in the Western Conference standings.

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