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The Journal Gazette

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Komets' Travis Ewanyk goes down while fighting for control of the puck with Quad City's Chris Leibinger in the first period of Saturday's game at the Memorial Coliseum.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Jason Binkley, of the Komets, takes a shot on goal in the first period of Saturday's game at the Memorial Coliseum against Quad City.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Komets' Shawn Szydlowski fights with Quad City's Dylan Labbe in the second period of Saturday's game at the Memorial Coliseum.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Mike Cazzola, of the Komets.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Garrett Thompson, of the Komets, tries to stop Quad City's Sam Warning from being first to the puck in the first period of Saturday's game at the Memorial Coliseum.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Chris Francis, of Quad City Mallards.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Shawn Szydlowski, of the Komets, looks to get around the defense of Quad City's Guillaume Gelinas in the first period of Saturday's game at the Memorial Coliseum.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Garrett Thompson, of the Komets, concentrates as he works to get the puck around the defense of Quad City's Dylan Labbe in the second period of Saturday's game at the Memorial Coliseum.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Komets' Shawn Szydlowksi faces off against Quad City's Chris Leibinger in the second period of Saturday's game at the Memorial Coliseum.

Saturday, April 08, 2017 10:40 pm

K's win 6-1; Cazzola named MVP

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

Aside from maintaining momentum for the playoffs, the Komets’ 6-1 victory Saturday over the Quad City Mallards didn’t have a lot of meaning.

It could conceivably affect home-ice advantage in the Conference or Kelly Cup finals, but that’s a long way off with the Komets having to first face the Mallards in a best-of-seven first-round series and the regular-season champion Toledo Walleye, or Kalamazoo Wings, looming after that.

Still, tonight’s game reiterated what we’ve seen all season long, as the Komets’ top playmakers, Shawn Szydlowski, Kyle Thomas and Mike Cazzola, all contributed on the scoresheet and the goaltending was solid.

After the game, Cazzola, a rookie forward, was selected MVP by his teammates. Other award winners, selected by reporters and team personnel, are below.

Goaltender Pat Nagle stopped 24 of 25 shots for the Komets.

The Komets, who have won six of their last seven and 15 of their last 20, finished the regular season with a 45-19-8 record, including an impressive 8-2-2 mark against the Mallards (40-28-4). At Memorial Coliseum, the Komets are 28-8-1.

It was the regular-season finale for both teams, who will meet Friday and Saturday at the Coliseum. They haven’t met in the postseason since 2003, when the Komets won the United Hockey League’s Colonial Cup.

For the second straight game, Komets captain Jamie Schaafsma moved from forward to defense, since injuries to Will Weber, Bobby Shea and Kyle Follmer left Fort Wayne with only five blue-liners.

Fort Wayne’s Mike Embach scored on the second shot of the game, spinning in the right corner and sending the puck off the inside of the leg of unsuspecting goalie Adam Vay and in at 1:40. Vay totaled 32 saves.

Quad City didn’t get its first shot on goal until 10:55 when Michael Parks’ backhand from just outside the right goalpost was stopped by Nagle, who is expected to start Game 1.

Thomas scored on a breakaway at 12:14, tucking the puck underneath Vay as the Komets had a 9-1 advantage in shots. Assisting on the goal was Cazzola, who had a hat trick in the Komets’ 5-2 victory over the Mallards on Friday in Moline, Illinois, and has totaled six goals and 11 points in the last seven games.

Szydlowski made it 3-0 by snapping a shot from the left circle into the far side of the net 13:04 into the second period.

Mason Baptista and Brett Perlini scored in the span of 22 seconds for a 5-0 lead. After Baptista scored again, Quad City’s Mike Wilson broke the shutout bid at 16:38.

Notes: Division-rival Toledo wrapped up the Brabham Cup as the ECHL regular-season champions. … The ECHL announced the 2019 All-Star Game will be in Toledo, Ohio. Indianapolis will host it in 2018. … The Komets inducted into their Hall of Fame former players Carey Lucyk and Dale Baldwin, statisticians Don Detter and Ted Rolf, and off-ice official Ken Roehrs. Al Sims and Colin Chaulk also go in because they had numbers retired this season. Sims was in attendance, but Chaulk was coaching the ECHL’s Brampton Beast.

Komets Award Winners

MVP: Mike Cazzola

Rookie of the Year: Mike Cazzola

Defenseman of the Year: Cody Sol

Best Defensive Forward: Shawn Szydlowski

Most Improved Player: Gabriel Desjardins

Unsung Hero: Garrett Bartus

Mr. Hustle: Kyle Thomas

True Komet: Jamie Schaafsma

Gallmeier Community Service: Mike Embach