FORT WAYNE, Ind. — A team bolstered by the presence of 16 one-time NHL players continued to win Saturday night because of a career minor-leaguer.
Goalie Rick Knickle, who is in his 12th International Hockey League season, stopped 27 of 28 shots and led the Gulls to a 2-1 victory over the Komets in front of 7,101 at Allen County Memorial Coliseum.
The Gulls (10-0-1) concluded their four-game road trip by earning seven of a possible eight points. They will have a five-day respite before playing host to Kalamazoo on Friday and Saturday.
Knickle was called on to make several spectacular saves in improving his record to 8-0 and lowering his goals-against average to 1.78. Knickle went 3-0 on the trip and compiled a 1.00 GAA.
"I'm just in one of those grooves right now that you don't want to see end," Knickle said. "I'm moving very well, I'm seeing the puck very well, and, of course, my defense is playing very well in front of me."
The Gulls took the initial lead five minutes into the first period on a power-play goal. John Anderson put in his own rebound, back-handing a loose puck over goalie Pokey Reddick.
It stayed that way until eight minutes elapsed from the second period and Fort Wayne finally figured out how to beat Knickle--with multiple deflections. Guy DuPuis took the initial shot. Scott Gruhl, stationed in front of the net, deflected it off to the side where Max Middendorf then directed it into the net.
The Gulls had to start their ninth period in 48 hours--a span which had them play in three different cities--guarding a 1-1 tie. Instead of playing lethargically, they ended up out-shooting fort Wayne, 8-6, in the period.
The winning goal came with 15 minutes 44 seconds left on another power play. John Anderson deflected a Dale DeGray pass from the right point between Reddick's legs.