The Florida Everblades dropped two of the weekend's three-game series to the Fort Wayne Komets, allowing the visitors to take the last two games after Saturday night's 3-1 loss at Germain Arena.
Becoming desperate to hold onto a playoff spot, the Blades (27-24) executed three trades on Monday. They acquired forward Aaron Bogosian from the Toledo Walleye in exchange for turner considerations, sent center Rocco Carzo to the Ontario Reign for future considerations, and moved defenseman Braden Birch to the Colo-rado Eagles.
Bogosian, 27, returns to the Blades where he began last season and contributed 26 points in 55 games before being traded to the Walleye last season.
The Blades hit the road this week for three games with the Gwinnett Gladia-tors starting Friday before returning to Germain Arena on March 4 to face the Orlando Solar Bears in another crucial divisional match up with playoff implications and seeding at stake.
It took the Komets only 4:39 to strike first Saturday, beating Blades net minder Connor Knapp (25 saves), who badly misplayed the puck.
The Komets struck twice more in the second period, thanks in part to four penalties assessed to the Blades in the period.
The inconsistent penalty calls all weekend long were the biggest point of contention for Blades coach Greg Poss and management.
Friday night Poss said, "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 Blades 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 three 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."