Komets unable to keep up

January 17, 2019

It’s all about the response.

The Komets had a few positives Wednesday night : namely three short-handed goals, a rare power-play goal and a superb second period despite an emaciated lineup : but they ended up on the losing end of the ECHL’s highest-scoring game of the season, falling 10-8 to the Kalamazoo Wings in front of 6,782 fans at Memorial Coliseum.

The Komets left the ice embarrassed after the Wings netted goals on 4 of 9 power plays and got a hat trick from the hottest player in the league, Reid Gardiner.

“It’s about what you learn from this situation, that’s the biggest thing you can do,” forward Mason Baptista said. “You can either put your head down and piss and moan because things didn’t go your way, (be mad because) the ref didn’t make this or that call. Or, you can treat it like a slap in the face, wake up and go out and do better.”

Fort Wayne goaltender Lukas Hafner stopped 32 of 39 shots before he was replaced by Hayden Stewart, who stopped 8 of 10. Kalamazoo’s Jake Hildebrand stopped 16 of 22 and Keegan Asmundson stopped 13 of 15.

The Komets (21-16-1) lost back-to-back games to the Wings (17-18-2) at the Coliseum, getting outshot 92-80. Gardiner’s point-scoring streak is up to 17 games, the longest in the ECHL this season, during which he’s totaled 31 points.

Fort Wayne scored on 1 of 3 power plays.

“I haven’t been in a game like this ever, with 10 goals against, in my coaching career. So it’s new territory for me. But I do know this: teams either go one way or the other after games like this,” Fort Wayne coach Gary Graham said. “So we’ll see which team shows up on Friday (against the Indy Fuel at the Coliseum).”

The Komets got two first-period goals from Matthew Weis before scoring on 5 of 9 second-period shots, tying it at 3 on captain Jamie Schaafsma’s breakaway.

A 30-foot goal by Kevin Gibson, a blue-line goal from Craig Cescon, and a goal from the left circle by Brady Shaw seemed to put Fort Wayne in control at 6-3.

The Wings battled back with seven of the ensuing eight goals : two apiece from Gardiner, Chris Collins and Tanner Sorenson, and one from Eric Kattelus : though Anthony Petruzzelli had two goals, including a breakaway that was set up by a kick pass from Schaafsma at center ice.

“The biggest thing is understanding what our identity as a team is,” Baptista said. “We’re not the same as other teams or what people expect; we’re a hard-working team and we’ve shown the ability to beat other teams by playing solid two-way hockey.”

The Komets’ lineup was decimated for myriad reasons. Leading scorer and all-star Justin Hodgman missed a third straight game with a hand injury; reigning league MVP Shawn Szydlowski was ill; Taylor Crunk served the third of his four-game suspension for punching Indy’s Radovan Bondra; Phelix Martineau remained with Laval of the higher-level American Hockey League; Trey Phillips was away because of family illness; and Jordan Sims had a hip injury.

Notes: The most goals allowed by the Komets in a game were 14 by Cincinnati of the International Hockey League on Nov. 27, 1955, in a 14-1 loss. ... The Komets signed defenseman Oskari Halme, 21, who had been in training camp with them.


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