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The Journal Gazette

  • Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette Garrett Thompson of the Komets gets a bead on Alaska goalie Kevin Carr as he scores during the first period Wednesday at the Coliseum.

  • Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette Komets Mike Cazzola, left, and Mike Embach, right, check on injured teammate Shawn Szydlowski, who took a fall against Alaska, during the first period Wednesday at the Coliseum.

  • Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette Jamie Schaafsma of the Komets maneuvers out of traffic against Alaska during the first period Wednesday at the Coliseum.

  • Mike Embach of the Komets has position on Brad Navin of Alaska during the first period Wednesday at the Coliseum.

  • Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette Bobby Shea of the Komets looks for a teammate as Matt Geurts of Alaska closes in during the first period Wednesday at the Coliseum.

  • Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette Taylor Crunk of the Komets fights Garet Hunt of Alaska during the first period Wednesday at the Coliseum.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017 11:40 pm

Analyzing K's victory, update on Szydlowski

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

As the Komets near the playoffs, they can ill afford to have games like the one they did Sunday, when they squandered a four-goal lead and lost to the Florida Everblades. But if they do lay an egg, they at least have to respond.

They did that today with the commanding 5-2 victory over the Alaska Aces at Memorial Coliseum.

“We responded well so you’ve got to look at the game as a learning experience,” said defenseman Bobby Shea, whose Komets had lost 6-4 to the Everblades in their previous game. “If we’d come out today and crapped the bed again, then we’d be looking around and saying, ‘You know, what’s the issue?’ But it happened once before the playoffs. In a way, it’s good because we can look at it and know that it cannot happen again. We responded well tonight and that’s the end of it.”

(Video highlights are above.)

The Komets were certainly pleased that they didn’t have much time to sit on the loss, playing one of their 10 Wednesday games of the season. And they were glad that it was against an opponent that’s decent, hungry and battling for a playoff spot, though the Aces have dropped seven of their last 10 games.

The Komets got some breathing room over Quad City for the second of four seeds for the divisional playoffs. With six games remaining, they are up six points.

The K’s remain mathematically capable of catching division- and league-leading Toledo, too, as the Walleye is up 12 points.

“This is one of the toughest parts of our schedule and it comes near the end of this season,” said coach Gary Graham, whose Komets play Friday at Cincinnati, Saturday at Indianapolis and Sunday at Toledo.

I’m sure you’re wondering about Shawn Szydlowski, who had a goal but came down with an apparent ankle injury when he was held by Nolan Descoteaux in the first period. Szydlowski returned in the second period and it seems like it’s good news for the Komets’ two-time team MVP.

“It’s always scary when any of your guys go down like that,” Graham said. “I didn’t see it, so I didn’t feel too comfortable as to what exactly happened. But I knew it was a penalty and right away (was asking), ‘Was it a cheap shot?’ I guess he just kind of landed weird and I think he’s going to be fine, probably day-to-day.”

There was praise for what Bobby Shea and Dan Milan did in returning to the lineup. Shea had an assist and was minus-1. Milan was plus-1.

“Getting Bobby Shea and Milan back in the lineup, I think, was big,” said Graham, whose Komets are on a 10-3-1 run. “They’re a couple of guys with experience and I thought you could see that we moved the pucks up a lot better tonight than what we had in the previous games. Overall, I’m pretty happy.”

The Aces are suspending operations after this season. Barring a playoff series, the teams won’t meet again. The Aces’ players will be declared free agents. I’m confident we won’t see Peter Sivak back here, but there certainly were some other players worth taking a look at, including Mitch Jones, the son of former Komets player Brad Jones.