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Hodgman goal cements Komets’ preseason rally

October 6, 2018

Justin Hodgman unleashed a slap shot from the hash marks : in the overtime shootout : and delivered the Komets a 3-2 victory in their preseason opener at Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis tonight.

It was a nice return to the lineup for Hodgman, who missed 42 of 72 regular-season games and 17 of 18 playoff games last season with injuries, and it was also a good welcome back for Taylor Crunk, who hadn’t played a game since Jan. 3 because of a hip injury.

Crunk’s goal 3:10 into the second period, off the rebound of a Jeff King shot, tied it at 2 in front of 3,457 fans. Charley Graaskamp also scored for the Komets, who recovered from an early two-goal deficit.

“I thought Crunk’s goal was huge for us. It was a good net-front, greasy goal for us,” coach Gary Graham said via telephone. “Both of our goals came from the net-front area. That was something we talked about before the game; we wanted to see the forwards get to the front better. In the scrimmages this week, we thought we’d been too perimeter.”

Indy’s goals came from Olivier Labelle and Josh Shalla, both on power plays.

Fort Wayne’s starting goaltender, rookie Kyle Hayton, stopped 15 of 17 shots. His replacement, Lukas Hafner, stopped all 11 shots he faced and 4 of 5 shootout attempts, allowing a Quentin Shore shootout goal.

“I thought both goalies played really good,” Graham said, noting that Hayton didn’t have much chance at stopping either goal, especially the second right off a face off. “I liked our response. As the game went on, we got better and that was important.”

Indy’s Jason Pawloski stopped 25 of 27 shots and 2 of 4 shootout attempts, allowing a shootout goal to defenseman Ryan Lowney.

In the 3-on-3 overtime, the Komets outshot the Fuel 4-2 with Thomas Ebbing nearly winning it early and Aidan Muir hitting the crossbar.

The Komets and Fuel meet 7:30 p.m. Saturday night in the preseason finale at Memorial Coliseum.

Graham said the Komets will try to give players who weren’t in American Hockey League training camps more chances to play, but he also wants to really start taking a look at his lineup for the regular season. 

“We’re trying to find that balance of that evaluation,” he said.

Notes: Fort Wayne’s Chase Stewart fought Anthony Collins. ... Defenseman Alexander Kuqali led the Komets with four shots on goal. ... Graaskamp was a team-best plus-2. ... Hayton got penalized for playing the puck outside the trapezoid, but it didn’t result in one of the power-play goals.

jcohn@jg.net 

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