FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – It is one of the most impossible, improbable, and impressive feats in Summit City sports history.
On December 14, 2002 Komets equipment manager Joe Franke was dressed as an emergency goalie for the short-handed squad – and not only wound up playing, but helping the Komets beat Elmira in a shootout.
Midway through the third period that night against the visiting Jackals, starting goalie Pokey Reddick was feeling ill and had to be removed from the game. With goalie Tom Lawson recently called up to the Hershey Bears of the AHL, Franke got the call in net.
Franke – who routinely helped out in goal during practice – had previously suited up 38 times as an emergency goalie without ever getting into a game. But with Reddick unable to play and Lawson gone, he entered the game tied 1-1 in the third period with 11 minutes remaining.
Both the Jackals and the Komets scored two goal apiece before time ran out – including a goal from Colin Chaulk where Franke was credited with an assist – knotting the game at 3-3 after regulation.
At that time the UHL immediately went to a 5-man shootout.
The first shooters were Elmira’s Glenn Stewart and Fort Wayne’s David Beauregard. Stewart went first and missed wide against Franke, but Beauregard’s shot was saved by Elmira.
Randy Murphy of Elmira was next and he also missed on Franke. Dustin Virag found the net for the Komets, giving Fort Wayne a 1-0 advantage in the shootout.
The highlight of Joe Franke’s night in goal came on the third penalty shot. His amazing glove save against Aaron Phillips shot meant the Jackals had not converted any of their first three shots. Chaulk then lit the lamp for Fort Wayne, giving the Komets a 2-0 shootout advantage.
David Lessard would beat Franke on Elmira’s fourth shot, but it became a moot point when Kelly Perrault scored on the Komets next attempt, giving Fort Wayne an insurmountable 3-1 shootout lead, and clinching a 4-3 win – the first and only win of Joe Franke’s career.