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Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Komets’ Justin Chwedoruk, center, crashes into Port Huron goalie Larry Sterling as the Icehawks’ Kevin Hansen hits him from behind during the first period of Fort Wayne’s loss at Memorial Coliseum on Wednesday.
Port Huron 4, Komets 2

K’s fall at home to Icehawks

Loss spoils strong return of Syroczynski

The Komets had eagerly anticipated Matt Syroczynski’s return to the lineup.

On Wednesday night, he showed what the hubbub was about, getting a goal and an assist in a 4-2 loss to the Port Huron Icehawks in front of an announced crowd of 5,453 at Memorial Coliseum.

The left wing returned to Fort Wayne after an 18-game stint with Norfolk of the American Hockey League, where he had four goals and six points before getting released.

“He was awesome,” Komets coach Al Sims said of Syroczynski’s performance.

Not much else was as the Icehawks scored four unanswered goals.

“I thought we played well. We created 42 shots and all sorts of scoring chances,” Sims said. “But our inability to finish at the net, obviously, cost us tonight big time.”

Syroczynski started fast, rushing the puck into the offensive zone then dropping it for center Colin Chaulk, who ripped a shot into the top of the net at 8:33 of the first period. After linemate Justin Chwedoruk tried to stuff the puck past Icehawks goaltender Larry Sterling, Syroczynski crashed the net and swept the rebound in for a 2-0 lead at 12:55.

Asked about his time in the AHL, which is one step below the NHL, Syroczynski said: “It was great. It was my longest stint there so far. It was just fun playing with first-round draft picks and NHL-contracted guys. The pace is fast. It’s quicker up there, and I tried to use that to get better and bring that down here.”

Syroczynski had been looked at by AHL teams three other times, never making it more than one game. The Admirals have told him he could be recalled this season.

“Up there, you’ve got to move your feet constantly,” Syroczynski said. “If you don’t move your feet, you’re behind the play. Everything’s up ice, move the puck, chip it in (the offensive zone). Any turnover is in the back of your net. So I think I improved. They worked with me on my skating ability. I have to apply it here and see what happens.”

Syroczynski has five goals and eight points in five games with Fort Wayne (12-7-1) this season. Even his return couldn’t stave off the Icehawks’ (13-6-1) onslaught, though.

Their run began at 15:42 of the first period, during a 4-on-3 power play, when left wing Tab Lardner blasted the puck from a tough angle and it ricocheted off goaltender Tim Haun and into the net. Icehawks left wing Mikael Bedard tied the game by stealing the puck from defenseman Guy Dupuis along the left boards, skating in on a 2-on-1 rush and slipping the puck just underneath the crossbar at 9:34 of the second period.

Forward Brandon Naurato made it 3-2 at 15:27 of the second period, after center Kerry Bowman set him up with a pass from behind the net. A Naurato backhand shot at 1:39 of the third put Port Huron ahead 4-2.

Haun stopped 19 of 23 shots. Sterling turned away 40 of 42.

Note: Dupuis, the Komets’ captain and all-time leader in games played, skated in his 900th match with the team, regular season and playoffs combined. He is six points shy of tying the franchise record for regular-season points by a defenseman, 482, held by Jim Burton.