Campagna’s 2 goals lead K’s
INDIANAPOLIS : J.C. Campagna helped make a name for himself in the Indianapolis area, as a prolific scoring youth player in his early teens. That propelled him to major juniors and eventually the professional ranks.
Now 25, his knack for scoring is still there, just at a whole other level : for the Komets.
And he can still put the puck in the net in Indianapolis.
Campagna, who leads the Komets in goal scoring with 16 in 26 games, netted two goals in the second period tonight to propel Fort Wayne to a 4-1 victory over the Indy Fuel in front of 3,715 fans at Indiana Farmers Coliseum.
It was a crucial victory for the Komets (17-14-1), who overtook Indy (17-15-0) and Wheeling for third place in the Central Division.
(Video highlights above.)
It was the Komets’ first game since their 4-3 loss at Memorial Coliseum to the Brampton Beast on New Year’s Eve, after which team president Michael Franke made it clear management was losing patience with the inconsistency of the team.
The Komets play Friday at Western Conference-leading Cincinnati.
Justin Hodgman had a goal and two assists for the Komets, who overcame a waved off goal in the first period, and Jake Kamrass’ point-scoring streak was extended to 11 games.
It didn’t take long for the Komets to open the scoring; 1:36 into the first period, when Brady Shaw’s pass from the right board set up Hodgman for an 18-foot shot that beat goaltender Matt Tomkins high.
Fort Wayne goalie Zach Fucale, a prospect of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, preserved the lead by stopping breakaways by Ryan Rupert and Kevin Dufour in the first half of the period.
It was Fucale’s first action for the Komets since returning from Davos, Switzerland, where he played for Canada in the Spengler Cup. Fucale had been 3-0-1 with a 1.47 goals-against average and .930 save percentage, but Canada lost to Finnish club KalPa Kuopio 2-1 in an overtime shootout in the championship game.
The Komets seemed to have taken a two-goal lead late in the period when a Shaw shot slipped underneath Tomkins and trickled just over the goal line, and was signaled a goal by referee Jeff Parker, but after a long discussion with the linesmen and the goal judge, Parker reversed the decision.
The ECHL is only using video replay in four arenas this season, including Kalamazoo, Michigan, and Toledo, within the Central Division, so the play couldn’t be reviewed.
Indy’s Logan Nelson scored 1:32 into the second period by firing a shot from the left circle that was blocked by Fort Wayne defenseman Ryan Lowney, retrieving the puck and snapping it past Fucale to make it 1-all. The goal came just seconds after Fucale had made a sliding save on a Dufour redirection from point-blank range.
That’s when Fort Wayne’s Campagna came alive. He finished off a tic-tac-toe passing play from Shaw and Hodgman with a snap of the puck from the bottom of the right circle at 10:38.
And he flicked a high shot from the top of the left circle, during a power play, for a 3-1 Fort Wayne lead at 16:11.
Mason Baptista added a goal at 16:58 of the third period.
Fucale stopped 33 shots. Tomkins stopped 36.
Notes: Goalie Eric Levine, who served as Lukas Hafner’s backup while Fucale was gone, was claimed off waivers by the Newfoundland Growlers. ... The Komets played without Jordan Sims (hip) and Alexander Kuqali. ... Cincinnati’s Michael Houser, who played last season for the Komets, was selected ECHL Goaltender of the Month. Houser went 6-0-0 with a 1.17 goals-against average and a .950 save percentage in December.