Szydlowski leads K’s past Walleye

December 23, 2018

Shawn Szydlowski, the ECHL’s leading scorer and MVP last season, certainly hadn’t been playing poorly.

But he took his game to another level tonight. And the Komets sure needed that.

Szydlowski scored two goals and broke up a Toledo Walleye breakaway in leading the Komets to a 5-2 victory in front of 7,023 fans at Memorial Coliseum.

“I thought he was fantastic. I thought he was the best player on the ice for both teams tonight,” Komets coach Gary Graham said. “Obviously, he back-checks and fore-checks and was physical. He did a lot of things creatively with the puck. He was the best player on the ice for both teams, but we had a lot of guys going. There were no passengers. We had a lot of guys going and that’s what we needed.”

Szydlowski now has four goals and 15 points in 17 games since returning from Norway.

Lukas Hafner, a native of Toledo, Ohio, stopped 21 shots for the Komets (14-12-1), who snapped a three-game losing streak. Pat Nagle stopped 37 shots for the Walleye (19-6-2), whose winning streak was halted at four games.

“The overall battle of the team (was better),” Hafner said. “Some of the guys’ back-checks and some of the things they were doing, I had a pretty easy night. In the second period, they had two shots. Toledo is a good team but the work we showed tonight is the type of team we want to be the rest of the year.”

(Video highlights are above.)

A dizzying couple of days of transactions and headaches came to an end Saturday afternoon when the Komets traded forward Justin Kea to the Orlando Solar Bears, who in turn flipped him to the Walleye.

The Komets owed the Solar Bears from the Tuesday trade that brought them Brady Shaw for Aidan Muir and future considerations, but it had been partially voided Friday when, according to Fort Wayne general manager David Franke, Muir failed his physical with Orlando. There was some controversy surrounding this since Muir’s injury, to his hand, had passed muster enough for him to play at Western Michigan University and for the Komets.

The shipment of Kea fulfills the Shaw trade, though the Komets still owe future considerations to Orlando for an earlier trade that brought them Ryan Siiro.

As for how Toledo got Kea, an email from the ECHL read: “We don’t release the particulars on trades as to not break news. That information will need to come from the team.” However, a source told The Journal Gazette that Kea was acquired for future considerations, not cash.

Meanwhile, Muir was released today by the Komets.

Kea, who had four goals and eight points in 23 games with the Komets, had a big part to play in the game tonight, tying it at 1 for the Walleye in the first period by redirecting a shot from Shane Berschbach during a power play 9:55 into the first period, just after Fort Wayne had failed to put together much of an attack during a 5-on-3 power play.

Fort Wayne’s Anthony Petruzzelli made it 2-1 by depositing the rebound of a Mason Baptista shot into the net at 16:21.

Szydlowski made it 3-1 by skating in from the left boards and putting a move on deep in the right circle, switching to his backhand, and lifting the puck above his former teammate, Nagle.

The lead grew to three goals at 15:50 when Shaw, playing his second game for the Komets, took a faceoff and stick-handled through the offensive zone to fire a shot on Nagle that allowed Jordan Sims to put a rebound into the net.

Szydlowski kept the lead at 4-1 by breaking up a Daniel Leavens breakaway at 19:58, though Toledo’s Kevin Tansey scored on a one-timer 4:18 into the third period.

Szydlowski’s one-timer from the left circle made it 5-2 at 18:31 of the third period.

Notes: Goaltender Zach Fucale left the Komets to join Canada for the Spengler Cup in Davos, Switzerland, and was replaced on the roster by Eric Levine, who had a game of experience with the Komets and had been with Quad City of the Southern Professional Hockey League this season. ... Jake Kamrass scored for Fort Wayne in the first period by putting a rebound inside the right post.


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