BLOOMINGTON — As a “Russian-born left winger,” Artem Podshendyalov, would immediately draw a suspicious eye from conservative talk-radio pundits.
The Bloomington PrairieThunder don’t think much of him as well, and for good reason.
Podshendyalov’s first two professional goals, both within a span of under a minute in the second period Saturday night, erased a 2-1 PrairieThunder lead and propelled the Ft. Wayne Komets to a 5-3 victory at U.S. Cellular Coliseum.
The loss was the second straight for the Thunder since the all-star break and the fourth in their last five outings, leaving Bloomington with a 19-13-1 record. The Thunder will once more seek what’s become an elusive 20th win this afternoon at 3:05 when they face conference-leading Rapid City at the Coliseum.
Bloomington outshot Ft. Wayne 33-27 in Saturday night’s contest but came up empty-handed on six power-play opportunities, before a crowd of 3,455, the largest since opening night.
“We just didn’t capitalize on our chances,” said coach Jason Christie. “On our power plays it’s just a lot of perimeter stuff. We’re not getting shots through and nobody’s there for rebounds.”
The night started well for the Thunder when a shot from the right circle by Brett Holmberg careened off the Ft. Wayne goalie toward the stick of Bloomington’s Bill Bagron who slapped it home to give the Thunder a 1-0 first period lead, just under five minutes into the game.
After the Komets answered later in the period, Bloomington’s Brodie Sheahan scored his third goal of the season with a slap shot from between the circles at the 16:20 mark of the second period to once more give the Thunder the lead.
Bloomington has been stout at protecting leads this year, entering Saturday night’s game with a 14-3-0 record in contest’s in which it had scored first.
Podshendyalov, who was signed by Ft. Wayne on Dec. 29, gave the Komets the opportunity to be an exception to the rule with his first two goals as a pro coming back-to-back midway through the second stanza.
While Podshendyalov has yet to play in his 13th professional game, the Komets’ Colin Chaulk is in his 13th professional season and scored his second goal of the year early in the third period on a short-handed breakaway to put Ft. Wayne up 4-2.
“When we gave up that shorthanded goal it kind of deflated us a little bit,” Christie said. “It’s important here to regroup for tomorrow and be ready to go. We had a couple of breakdowns in the defensive zone and you can’t have those, especially at home.”
After Ft. Wayne took a 5-2 lead on a goal by Kaleigh Schrock, Jon Booras scored a short-handed goal for the Thunder with 28-seconds remaining in the game to account for the final 5-3 margin.
Fort Wayne 1 2 2 — 5
Bloomington 1 1 1— 3
First period — Bloomington, Bagron (Holmberg, Mazur), 4:58; Fort Wayne, Musselwhite (Francis, Drouin), 9:09.
Second period — Bloomington, Sheahan (Klotz), 3:40; Fort Wayne, Podshendyalov (Schrock, Chaulk), 6:42; Fort Wayne, Podshendyalov (Cescon, Lapointe), 7:35.
Third period — Fort Wayne, Chaulk (unassisted), 4:41; Fort Wayne, Schrock (Lapointe, Podshendyalov), 6:18; Bloomington, Boras (Snowden), 19:32.
Shots on goal — Fort Wayne 8-8-11-27; Bloomington 11-12-10-33.
Penalties-minutes — Fort Wayne 7-17:00; Bloomington 5-13:00.
Goalies — Fort Wayne — Boucher (33 shots, 30 saves, 60:00); Bloomington – Phillips (19 shots, 14 saves, 46:18), Emond (8 shots, 8 saves, 13:42)
Power play opportunities — Fort Wayne 0 of 4; Bloomington 0 of 6.
Attendance — 3,455.
Referee — Miller; Linesmen — Petrin, Pagani.