AP NEWS

Komets dismantled 8-2

February 16, 2019

Not since Jan. 12 against the Utah Grizzlies have the Komets won at Memorial Coliseum.

They’ve gone 0-3-2 since then on home ice, but this was undoubtedly the worst of it : an 8-2 loss to the Adirondack Thunder in front of 8,445 fans tonight.

About the only highlights for the Fort Wayne faithful were goals by Jason Binkley and Mason Baptista, and fights from Taylor Crunk and Cody Sol.

(Video is above.)

On the heels of Thursday’s 6-5 overtime loss to the Kalamazoo Wings at Kalamazoo, Michigan, the Komets made Shawn Szydlowski, the ECHL’s reigning MVP and leading scorer, a healthy scratch.

He came into tonight with only two assists over his previous nine games, during which Fort Wayne was 2-1-6. In 36 games since returning from Europe, Szydlowski has eight goals and 24 points, after he totaled 31 goals and 79 points in 64 games last regular season.

Things looked great for the Komets (23-18-7) early : for all of 21 seconds.

That was the time it took, after Binkley opened the scoring for Fort Wayne, for the Thunder (28-18-5) to get its offense going.

Binkley had made it 1-0 with a short-handed goal at the end of an odd-man rush, with his team skating short-handed, after Jamie Schaafsma set him up with a no-look pass for a 30-foot shot. But then the wheels came off the Komets who allowed the Thunder’s Brian Ward to tie it at 1 on a redirection at 3:23 of the first period.

Tack on goals from John Edwardh and Cullen Bradshaw, and the Thunder had a 3-1 lead on just its first eight shots, forcing Fort Wayne coach Gary Graham to pull his starting goaltender, Eric Levine, who had come in with a 1-0-4 record and a 1.96 goals-against average and .934 save percentage for Fort Wayne.

His replacement, Zach Fucale, allowed a power-play goal to Matias Cleland on a shot from the left circle at 10:09 and a goal to Dylan Walchuk at 16:28, as Adirondack took a commanding 5-1 lead.

That lead became 6-1 when Mike Szmatula was wide open to take a Desmond Bergin cross-ice pass and one-time it into the back of the net 10:00 into the second period.

Fucale finished with 23 saves on 28 shots, allowing a breakaway goal to Matt Salhany for a 7-1 lead at 19:53 of the second period.

Adirondack’s Alex Sakellaropoulos stopped 15 of 17 shots.

Adirondack scored on 3 of 7 power plays. Fort Wayne was 0 for 3.

The fans got a rare moment to celebrate in the third period, when Sol fought Ward, chucking his helmet into the glass afterward. Mason Baptista then scored for the Komets from the right circle, cutting the Thunder’s lead to 8-2.

Earlier in the game, Fort Wayne’s Crunk had fought Carter Struthers.

The Komets play host to the Wheeling Nailers at 5 p.m. Sunday at the Coliseum.

Notes: The ECHL fined Kalamazoo’s Brandon Anselmini an undisclosed amount for slashing the Komets’ Anthony Petruzzelli in the Wings’ 6-5 overtime victory Thursday in Michigan. ... Marco Roy and Phelix Martineau were both scratched tonight for Laval of the American Hockey League. ... Fort Wayne-native Alex Zion was the backup goalie for Adirondack. ... Former Komets forward Dennis Kravchenko didn’t play due to an undisclosed injury. ... The Komets were without Justin Hodgman (hand), Jordan Sims (hip), Lukas Hafner and Garrett Clarke. ... The referee was Jacob Rekucki.

jcohn@jg.net