ELMIRA, N.Y. - The Elmira Jackals matched their longest win streak of the season with a 2-1 shootout victory over the Fort Wayne Komets on Saturday night at First Arena. Elmira has won four in a row to improve its record to 38-23-7 on the season.
While it was unlikely the Jackals would score five first period goals for the third night in a row, they did their best to match that output. Fourteen shots were launched on Fort Wayne goalie Charlie Effinger, but unlike the last two nights, the Jackals could not dent the net for all their effort. At the other end of the ice the Jackals' defense was stifling and limited Fort Wayne to just six shots on goal. Ian Keserich made his second start of the week and turned away all comers to send the game into the second period scoreless.
With the confidence of a team that had scored 12 goals in its last two games, the Jackals made quick work of breaking the tie in the second. Benjamin Dieude-Fauvel started the scoring play by pinning the puck down on the left wing boards to prevent a Fort Wayne clearing attempt. As he skated down the wall with the puck he spied an open Jean Bourbeau between the circles. The Jackals captain took a pinpoint pass and rifled a wrist shot over Effinger's glove at 2:12 of the period for his 19th of the season. Elmira played stout defense in front of Keserich again and limited the Komets to six shots again. With Keserich able to turn in 12 saves over 40 minutes, the Jackals took the lead into the third.
That final stanza was filled with intensity and drama as the teams earned two power play opportunities a side. The Jackals were in search of an insurance score, which they couldn't find, while the Komets were gunning to tie it up. With Chaz Johnson serving a double-minor for high sticking, Fort Wayne struck. The rebound of a Thomas Beauregard shot laid up in the slot for Matt Syroczynski to spike home with 2:55 left to play.
When the game shifted to overtime, the teams layered on the drama even thicker. Fort Wayne launched four shots Keserich's way in the sudden death frame, while the Jackals managed a pair. It was that second shot, though, that was the most opportune time to end the game. After being hauled down on a breakaway with 35 seconds left, Brandon Blandina was awarded a penalty shot. He carried right down the middle and tried to beat Effinger through the pads to no avail. So the game headed to a shootout.
Jamie Milam scored on the first shot for Fort Wayne only to be matched by Matt Carter in the bottom of the first. Keserich put up a wall on each of the next four Komet shooters to set the stage for the crescendo. In his second pro game, Eric Delong was called on to take Elmira's fifth shot. He carried right to the top of the crease before dekeing to his forehand and launching a shot under the crossbar and popped the water bottle off of the net.
Keserich earned his seventh win of the season by stopping 29 of 30 through overtime and four of five in the shootout. Elmira ended the night 0-for-6 on the power play and 4-for-5 on the penalty kill.