AP NEWS

Komets plagued by bad breaks

March 23, 2019

The biggest body check of the season was doled out when Josh Elmes crushed the ECHL’s leading point-scorer, Jesse Schultz, so hard that Schultz was taken entirely off his feet and pinned horizontally against the Memorial Coliseum glass.

But Elmes was assessed a penalty for interference by referee Chris Pontes on Friday.

And that’s how it’s been going for the Komets lately; they’ll do something great but not get the result they want.

Despite getting off to a terrific start Friday, when J.C. Campagna netted his 34th goal, the Komets were victimized by ill-timed penalties and turnovers in a 3-2 loss to the Cincinnati Cyclones in front of 9,123 fans at the Coliseum.

“We’ve just got to make better decisions with the puck,” said Campagna, who is tied with Allen’s Zach Pochiro for the ECHL goal-scoring lead. “Obviously, giving up a (few) breakaways hurt us tonight and that’s kind of been the story of the season : bad bounces so the other team gets breakaways. Call it luck, call it chance, whatever you want, it’s just unfortunate that we’re giving up those types of chances to the other team and that we’re not bearing down enough on the chances that we’re getting.”

Fort Wayne’s Eric Levine stopped 19 shots but gave up two goals on breakaways in the second period, when Ben Johnson steered around Sean Flanagan for a 2-1 Cyclones lead and Myles Powell made it 3-1 by blocking an Elmes shot and going the length of the ice for a goal.

Fort Wayne’s Brady Shaw scored off the rebound of an Anthony Petruzzelli shot in the waning seconds, too late for the Komets to avoid back-to-back losses on home ice.

Ty Rimmer stopped 22 shots for the Cyclones (47-11-7), who have already clinched the Central Division title and lead the entire ECHL.

Fort Wayne remains nine points back of the Toledo Walleye for second place in the division. Toledo has lost two of its last three games, but the Komets (31-23-9) haven’t been able to capitalize and remain only one point ahead of Kalamazoo with nine games left in the regular season.

“What you need is your top guys down the stretch here, your oldest guys, and with everybody it all runs downstream,” Komets coach Gary Graham said. “You need all 18 guys utterly and fully committed. That’s the only way it happens in these crunch games down the road. That’s it.”

The Komets played without All-Star forward Justin Hodgman because of a foot injury. But they signed goalie Alex Dubeau, forward Anthony Nellis and forward Gage Torrell.

Dubeau was with the University of New Brunswick where he won three University Cups and was MVP of the playoff tournament this year. He was 15-6-0 with a 2.31 goals-against average and a .894 save percentage this season. Nellis had 15 goals and 33 points in 38 games for Lake Superior State, where Torrel had seven goals and 25 points in 38 games.

Nellis helped set up Campagna for a power-play goal from the left circle, the same spot Cincinnati’s Mike Marnell scored from to tie it at 1. Fort Wayne scored on 2 of 4 power plays and Cincinnati was 1 for 3.

“I loved (the new players) and that’s what we need more of : guys who come in, buy in, skate hard and don’t take dumb penalties,” Graham said.

jcohn@jg.net