Hodgman suspended 2 games by ECHL
After losing perhaps their most consistent defenseman, rookie Chase Stewart, the Komets turned in one of their stingiest performances of the season Thursday night.
“We wanted to block shots and we just have to play five (men) together in the defensive zone, and when we do that we’re successful,” said forward Jake Kamrass, whose highlight-reel goal following a drop pass from Justin Hodgman was crucial in the 2-1 victory over the Kalamazoo Wings at Memorial Coliseum.
Now, the Komets’ task gets more difficult. Hodgman, who’s their leading scorer with nine goals and 34 points in 27 games, was suspended two games by the ECHL on Friday for an incident at the final whistle Thursday : he took a baseball-like swing of the stick at Tanner Sorenson, who had checked him into the crossbar, though Hodgman made little-to-no contact with Sorenson’s leg.
The Komets (15-12-1) play host to Cincinnati (20-6-4), at 8 p.m. today and then play at rival Toledo (20-6-2) at 7:15 p.m. Sunday.
On Monday, the Komets play host to the Brampton Beast (12-16-3) in the annual New Year’s Eve game at 7:30 p.m. The Komets have a 41-15-5 record on Dec. 31.
“The next two opponents are the best two teams in the league, so keep throwing them at us,” Komets coach Gary Graham said. “We’ve got to make sure that our team defense is something we keep improving on and that we keep playing well in front of our goalies. Overall, I liked our team defense game (Thursday).”
With goalie Zach Fucale in Davos, Switzerland, representing Canada at the Spengler Cup, Lukas Hafner stopped 24 shots for Fort Wayne on Thursday.
Fucale stopped 19 shots for Canada on Friday, as Canada (2-0-0) beat Nurnberg 6-2 to advance to the Spengler semifinals.
In the wake of losing Stewart, who opted to pursue his degree and play Canadian college hockey, the Komets re-signed defenseman Brandon Lubin and forward Joseph Widmar, who had been playing in the lower-level Southern Professional Hockey League.
“Guys really enjoyed the (Christmas) break and came back ready to go,” Kamrass said. “We called a couple of guys up and it was just the next-man-in-line mentality. I thought they played really well.”
Having a fast-paced offense that put up 39 shots against Kalamazoo, getting a power-play goal from Jamie Schaafsma, certainly helped. So did the little things, like helping Hafner keep the puck out of the net when he lost his stick making a save in the second period.
“I thought with everybody, it was team defense,” Graham said. “You play with pace and you make sure you take care of the puck. Then you spend less time in your own end.”
Note: The Komets will wear special Nickelodeon “Double Dare” jerseys tonight that will be auctioned off. Proceeds will benefit charities of police, fire and emergency medical services.