The Florida Everblades dropped their second straight game to the Fort Wayne Komets Saturday night, avoiding a shutout 3-1 at Germain Arena.
It took the Komets only 4:39 to strike first, beating Blades net minder Connor Knapp (25 saves), who badly misplayed the puck.
Florida failed to get on the scoreboard before entering intermission and the Komets struck twice more in the second period thanks in part to four penalties assessed to the Everblades during the period.
The inconsistent penalty calls all weekend long were the biggest point of contention for Blades coach Greg Poss and management, but league rules prevent coaches and management from making public statements against officiating crews.
Friday night, Poss would only go so far as to say "I'm not at liberty to discuss those things, but the official in question knows who he is."
Fort Wayne's second goal came less than a minute into the second period following an Everblades power play opportunity that started at the close of the first period. Failing to clear the puck from their zone after Fort Wayne forced it down ice, the extra man came out of the box for the Komets and forced the puck deep into Everblades territory, eventually leading to the score.
The Everblades penalty kill held for nearly the entire period, but one too many chances for the Komets with the extra-man advantage came back to haunt, leading to a Komets power-play goal with 2:08 left in the second, and a 3-0 lead into the final period.
The Blades hit the ice desperate in the third period, but was stopped at every turn by Komets goaltender Ben Meisner (32 saves). Kyle Bonis helped avoid the shutout with a tip goal with 3:16 to play, giving Poss reason to pull Knapp for the final th4ee minutes, but the lead was too big to overcome.
"It's a reoccurring theme that at home we are too easy to play against," said Poss. "At first I thought we were tired, but in the third period, we had energy."
The teams' play also drew rare criticism from Blades president Craig Brush.
"If we can't learn to win at home; if we can't establish ourselves as a team that can win at home then we are not even going to make the playoffs," Brush said angrily. "The coaches are doing everything they can to get these guys ready to play a hockey game. We get a full house tonight, and they come out and lay an egg for two periods. I should be refunding two thirds of ticket prices today because the fans only saw one period of hockey."
The Blades (27-18-2-4) hit the road next week before returning to Germain Arena on March 4 to face the Orlando Solar Bears in a crucial divisional match up with playoff implications and seeding at stake.