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Kestner scores twice, but Walleye handed rare defeat against Komets

Sunday, March 1st
Kestner scores twice, but Walleye handed rare defeat against Komets

TOLEDO, OhioJosh Kestner continued his hot streak with a pair of goals on Saturday, but the Fort Wayne Komets won for the first time in 10 tries this season against the Toledo Walleye in a 5-3 decision before a sold-out crowd of 8,312 at the Huntington Center.

The Walleye (33-16-4-1) were dealt a rude awakening one night after a convincing 7-1 victory, as the Komets (28-22-6-2) scored twice prior to the halfway mark of the opening period. Filip Larsson got his catching glove on Chaz Reddekopp’s wrister from the right point, but Brady Shaw collected the rebound near the right side of the crease and banked a shot off the Toledo netminder’s right skate to give Fort Wayne a 1-0 lead at 7:22.

The visitors quickly doubled their advantage at the 9:43 mark, as Brett McKenzie sent a pass from the left circle to Shawn St-Amant at the hash marks for a wrister that clanked off the back bar before coming right back out. Fort Wayne’s 2-0 margin was subsequently confirmed following a brief video review.

Brett Boeing put the Walleye on the scoresheet with 2:04 to play in the first frame. After taking a pass from Kyle Bonis in the right corner, Abbott Girduckis quickly centered the puck to Boeing, whose second effort hit the right post and the inside of Cole Kehler’s blocker before trickling over the goalline. 

The Walleye capitalized on a lengthy 5-on-3 to restore parity 9:26 into the second period. Following back-to-back minors to Mason Bergh and Anthony Petruzzelli, Kestner unloaded a wrist shot from the top of the left circle that found a sliver of daylight between Kehler’s right arm and body. 

However, St-Amant responded with two unanswered goals to complete his hat trick and stake the Komets to a 4-2 lead heading into the second intermission. Shaw centered the puck in front to St-Amant for a one-timer into the top right corner at the 12:13 mark, before the latter converted his wraparound attempt at the left post at 18:17.

Kestner eventually potted his second goal of the night to slice the deficit to 4-3 with 11:17 left in regulation. Shane Berschbach threw a pass from the right point toward the slot to Kestner, who controlled the puck on his forehand and snapped a shot inside the left post for his team-leading 29th tally of the campaign.

Aided by two consecutive power play chances, the Walleye outshot Fort Wayne by a 15-5 count during the third period, but the late push was thwarted when Shaw drew a controversial interference penalty that sent Dylan Zink to the sin bin with 1:19 remaining in the final frame. On the ensuing man advntage, Petruzzelli slapped home an empty-netter with 1.4 seconds left to ice the game.Fort Wayne finished 2-for-6 on the power play, while Toledo scored on 1-of-5 opportunities. Kehler blocked 29-of-32 shots one night after stopping 7-of-8 in relief to collect the win, as Larsson turned away 24-of-28 attempts in defeat.

What’s Next:The Walleye conclude a stretch of three home game in three days on Sunday, as they welcome the Wheeling Nailers to the Huntington Center for a 5:15 p.m. puck drop.

Three Stars:1. Fort Wayne – Shawn St-Amant (hat trick)2. Toledo – Josh Kestner (two goals)3. Fort Wayne – Brady Sahw (goal, two assists)

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