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IceMen finish off rival Komets with strong final period

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Piecemeal defense isn’t always a bad thing.

Playing with one freshly signed defender (Donnie Harris) and a forward playing out of position (Patrick Kennedy), the Evansville Icemen shut down the Fort Wayne Komets for much of the game and won 4-1 Wednesday night at the Ford Center.

“I wasn’t sure how it was going to go in the back tonight,” said Evansville coach and general manager Rich Kromm. “But we stuck Patrick Kennedy back there because he skates so well and he has great reach.

Photographs by ERIN MCCRACKEN / COURIER & PRESS
Evansville's Matt Schepke (46) and Fort Wayne's Mike Hoban (29) fight to gain possession of the puck during the first period of Wednesday night's game at the Ford Center.

Photo by Erin McCracken

Photographs by ERIN MCCRACKEN / COURIER & PRESS Evansville’s Matt Schepke (46) and Fort Wayne’s Mike Hoban (29) fight to gain possession of the puck during the first period of Wednesday night’s game at the Ford Center.

Evansville's Donnie Harris (26) gains control of a loose puck as he attempts to regain possession during the first period of Wednesday night's game against the Fort Wayne Komets at the Ford Center.

Photo by Erin McCracken

Evansville’s Donnie Harris (26) gains control of a loose puck as he attempts to regain possession during the first period of Wednesday night’s game against the Fort Wayne Komets at the Ford Center.

ERIN MCCRACKEN / COURIER & PRESS 
 Evansville's Dylan Clarke (16) tries to keep Fort Wayne's Eric Giosa (23) from getting the puck during the first period of Wednesday night's game at the Ford Center.

Photo by Erin McCracken

ERIN MCCRACKEN / COURIER & PRESS Evansville’s Dylan Clarke (16) tries to keep Fort Wayne’s Eric Giosa (23) from getting the puck during the first period of Wednesday night’s game at the Ford Center.

“We just called up Donnie Harris, but he did a very nice job. He was very sound. I was really happy with the way they played.”

Kromm wasn’t the only one. So was Icemen goal

keeper Paul Dainton, who had a shutout going in the ECHL hockey game until 12:27 of the third period, but settled for Evansville’s second straight 4-1 win and third straight victory at home in front of an announced crowd of 3,104.

“Our defense did a great job of playing together tonight,” said Dainton. “Everybody stuck to the system in the defensive zone and really limited the (Komets’) opportunities.”

Dainton said losing the shutout, which would’ve been just the second for the Icemen this season, didn’t matter.

“It’s always going to be about getting the win, getting the two points,” he said. “You’re not thinking about the shutout. If it comes, it’s a bonus.”

The win was all that mattered to Kromm and the Icemen, who were about to board a bus for an 18-hour overnight trip to Elmira, N.Y. for games against the Jackals on Friday and Saturday.

“It’s always good to get another win,” he said. “When they made it 2-1 they started pushing on us a little, but that third goal (on a redirect by Nathan Moon on Aaron Gens’ slap shot from the blue line) was huge.

“Then we were able to just relax and play. Then we got another nice goal (from Dylan Clarke) to put it away. A game like this can help us build some confidence.”

Other goals for the Icemen came from Daniel Tetrault in the second period for a 1-0 Evansville lead and then Kevin Baker scored from a tough angle off a cross from Todd Robinson to make it 2-0.

Fort Wayne briefly got back in the game 2-1, but Dainton kept the Komets out of the net with 29 saves until the offense perked back up.

“Dainton was really good tonight,” said Kromm. “I thought he really competed and played the puck well at opportune times. He took some pressure off a defense that hadn’t played together.

“We got off to a bit of a slow start tonight, but we started doing a better job getting to loose pucks and just played better from there.”

With Kalamazoo losing to Reading 4-1, the Icemen moved back within two points of fourth in the ECHL North Division.

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