EVANSVILLE, IND – The Evansville IceMen dropped the first decision on a three-game home stand on Wednesday as the Ft. Wayne Komets prevailed in a heavily defensed contest. The loss is just the first in the last four home games for the IceMen while the Komets have now won five of its last six away games with their only setback coming in Evansville one week ago.
The defensive struggle took to the midway point of the final period when Ft. Wayne Forward Mike Hoban broke the scoreless tie, scoring the only goal of the game for either team on Wednesday night. Hoban’s third goal of the season came 9:59 into the third period and was assisted by Ft. Wayne Center Eric Giosa. Scoring the game-winning goal paved the way to a second star of the game honor for Hoban against the IceMen.
The Komets were lead by a heroic performance by Goaltender Ken Reiter, who saved all 36 shots faced on his way to a spotless 1.000 save percentage. Ft. Wayne, who has lost ten players due to the beginning of the NHL regular season, rode Reiter’s first star of the game token to stay in second place in the North Division. The shutout performance gave Reiter the easy first star of the game consideration as he improves his record to (12-6-1) on the season. Reiter now has two shutouts this season.
IceMen Goaltender Paul Karpowich went save-for-save with Reiter the majority of the game, but ultimately took the loss despite saving 25-of-26 shots faced, equalling a .962 save percentage. Karpowich represented the IceMen as the third star of the game despite declining his record to (6-8-2) on the season.
A scoreless first period came and went with the IceMen outshooting the Komets 16-6. The majority of those Evansville shots were courtesy of three pressure-filled power play opportunities. Despite the efficiency in puck possession in the offensive zone, the IceMen were unable to get one in-net on their way to an 0-for-3 first period power play fate.
The second period played out similar to the first with each team remaining stout defensively. Evansville received a single power play opportunity in the second period when Ft. Wayne Defenseman Daniel Maggio pummeled IceMen Center Jason Dale with a flurry of punches that Dale did not respond to. Maggio was tagged with a double-minor, but the IceMen were stonewalled on the four-minute man advantage.
Arguably the best opportunity for Evansville to get on the board was two minutes into the third period when IceMen Center Nathan Moon carried the puck near the crease and produced two straight shots on goal, one a rebound off his initial shot.
The IceMen power play was also shutout on Wednesday, going 0-for-6 against the Komets. Evansville’s penalty killing unit did its part, handling all three of Ft. Wayne’s power play opportunities. The IceMen outshot the Komets 16-6 in the first period and 36-26 for the game, and have outshot opponents in 13 of their last 18 games.
The IceMen fall to (15-22-4) on the season and remain in fifth place in the North Division with 34 points. Ft. Wayne improves its recored to (22-17-2) on the season and remain in second place with 46 points. The Komets are now (7-0-2) this season in one-goal games on the road.
Despite the loss on Wednesday, the IceMen have outscored opponents in their last four home games, 13-4. Evansville falls under the .500 mark against the Komets this season with a (2-3-1) record.
Evansville will have an opportunity to leapfrog the fourth place Wings on Friday as Kalamazoo comes to the Ford Center in a pivotal North Division matchup. The game is scheduled to start at 7:15 p.m. and will be broadcasted on ‘Magic 98.5’ FM and 1400 AM WEOA, as well as the rest of the IceMen Radio Network.