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Familiar ice fortuitous for Komets’ Campagna

January 4, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS : J.C. Campagna was riding the high of a big game : one he’d been waiting years to have : and goaltender Zach Fucale just wanted a nap.

On a night that many Komets players played huge parts, the storylines of Campagna and Fucale were the biggest of a 4-1 victory over the Indy Fuel that propelled the Komets from fifth to third place in the Central Division heading into tonight’s road game against first-place Cincinnati.

“I think every game, you need to treat them the same way. No matter how many people are here or not here, you have to bring it and play your game, bring what you bring to the table every single night,” said Campagna, whose two second-period goals broke open what had been a tied game and upped his team-leading goal total to 16 in 26 games.

Despite keeping his mental and physical preparation even keel, Campagna, 25, had been looking forward to playing at Indiana Farmers Coliseum for a long time.

At age 13, he had moved from Colorado to the Indianapolis area to play two years of bantam hockey for the Carmel-based Indy Racers, and that helped propel him to major juniors and eventually the professional ranks.

“I’ve practiced on this rink but never played a game, so this was fun for me,” said Campagna, who gave out 15 tickets to the game and had many close friends among the 3,715 in the stands.

Campagna has been in the ECHL since 2017, so it’s a bit surprising he hadn’t played in Indianapolis before Thursday, when he finished off a tic-tac-toe passing play from Brady Shaw and Justin Hodgman by scoring from the bottom of the right circle for a 2-1 lead 10:38 into the second period, then flicked a shot from the top of the left circle for a power-play goal at 16:11.

“It’s just the way it worked out. There was a couple times when it looked like I might play here but then I’d get traded or end up getting hurt, so it took awhile for this game to happen,” Campagna said. “For the first game here, it was good to get the win.”

Fucale, a goaltending prospect of the Vegas Golden Knights, had just rejoined the Komets (17-14-1) on Wednesday from a trip to Davos, Switzerland, where he backstopped Canada to a second-place finish at the Spengler Cup. With Canada, Fucale was 3-0-1 with a 1.47 goals-against average and .930 save percentage, and Thursday he stopped 33 shots, including breakaways by Ryan Rupert and Kevin Dufour. The goal he gave up was to Logan Nelson, who retrieved a puck that had been blocked by Ryan Lowney and snapped it high from the left circle for Indy (17-15-0).

“Last night I slept great. Today, I felt normal. In the game, I was good until the last couple minutes, and then (the jet lag) hit me,” Fucale said. “I knew this game was huge and that I needed to be sharp for the team. Everybody brought their ‘A’ game today and it was awesome to see. We had a good meeting this morning and it was just awesome to see the guys coming with grit.

“But now that this game’s over, it’s over. We’ve got to redo the same thing tomorrow. Every day, we’ve got to bring this energy.”

Hodgman had the game’s first goal and two assists. Jake Kamrass’ assist on a late Mason Baptista goal extended his points streak to 11 games.  

“We’ve just got to do things the right way and get everybody playing on the same page,” Komets coach Gary Graham said. “When we do that, we give ourselves a chance to win.”

jcohn@jg.net

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