Flint goaltender Rob Nolan had a 6-8-1 record going into Sunday's game against the Fort Wayne Komets, but he showed why he is one of the International Hockey League's top goaltenders by making 35 saves in a 4-1 win.
``Nolan is for real,'' Komets coach Al Sims said. ``He's one of the top goalies in the league. They played well and got great goaltending.''
A night after scoring a season-high seven goals at league-leading Muskegon, the Komets couldn't find much offense against the Generals who are 8-5-2 at home despite being 2-12-1 away from Perani Arena. Despite getting three power plays and out-shooting the Generals 15-6 in the second period, the Komets managed only one goal behind Nolan and trailed 2-1 going into the third period.
The Komets out-shot the Generals early in the third period, but Flint's John Mori and John Ronan scored 1:26 apart three-fourths of the way thorugh to wrap up the game.
``In the second period, they had one chance to score and they scored,'' Sims said. ``When it was 2-1 in the third, Nolan made some unbelievable stops and kept it there. We had some chances tonight, but we just couldn't get it done. Especially on our last power play we had all kind of chances, but Nolan came up big.''
Despite his losing record, Nolan came into the game ranking fourth in the league with a 2.38 goals against average and first with a .926 save percentage.
The only goal from the Komets came from Sean O'Connor at 8:25 of the second period off assists from Colin Chaulk and Konstantin Shafranov. The assist extended Chaulk's streak to 11 points over five straight games, including four in Saturday's win at Muskegon. Chaulk's line of Konstantin Shafranov and David Hukalo combined for three goals and eight points on Saturday.
``I think it's a big thing to have two good puck handlers on the line with him,'' Sims said. ``He's the finisher on the line right now and we need him to keep it up. I think his intensity has picked up quite a bit. He's a winner and he doesn't like to lose. He's back to playing the way he does when he's in that frame of mind. He's working his butt off and it is producing the results.''
Hukalo was unable to play Sunday because of a strained back muscle. The Komets also played the weekend without forward Tomas Klempa who was unable to return from a Christmas trip to Omaha, Neb.
Sunday's game ended a stretch of four-straight road contests for the Komets with a 2-2 mark. They are 15-10-1 overall for 31 points and trail first-place Muskegon by 10 points.
THe Komets play six of their next 10 games at Memorial Coliseum starting Tuesday against Dayton. After a road game at Dayton on Wednesday, the Komets will host Bloomington for New Year's Eve on Thursday.