It was a fitting sendoff for left wing Konstantin Shafranov, who had used his craftiness with the stick to dazzle fans for seven seasons over 15 years.
After receiving a pre-game standing ovation Sunday at Memorial Coliseum, it took only 13 seconds of game time for Shafranov to make an impact. Carrying the puck down the right side of the ice, he backhanded a pass through a sea of players and onto the stick of left wing Matt Syroczynski, who one-timed it into the top of the net for the first of his three goals.
Typical savvy set-up play from play from Shafranov, the former NHLer, whose finale was an 8-4 victory over the Quad City Mallards that kept the Komets barely clinging to hopes of winning a fourth straight regular-season championship.
Now it's on to his homeland of Kazakhstan, where Shafranov will begin preparing for the World Championships, which will take place in Germany during May.
"Yeah, I was a bit nervous before this game, knowing it would be my last game for the Fort Wayne Komets," said Shafranov, who had two assists Sunday, 19 goals and 57 points for the season. "It's not easy, but I have a great opportunity to go play in the World Championships. … It's a great tournament and the big countries are in it. It's a good experience for all hockey players."
The Komets, who have 100 points and three games remaining in the regular season, trail first-place Muskegon by five points. If the Lumberjacks get one more point, or the Komets fail to win one, Muskegon will secure home-ice advantage and Fort Wayne will open its playoff series against Port Huron on April 22 at the Coliseum.
- Don't forget Tuesday night's "We've got Game" internet radio show with Justin Cohn and Ben Smith. We've got some exciting guests slated this week, and I'm sure there will be some Komet talk. I'll remind you, but here's the page where the show can be found: Click here.