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The Journal Gazette

  • Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette Komets defenseman Curtis Leonard, left, has words with the Adirondack Thunder's Kevin Lough after they got tangled up in Fort Wayne's defensive zone Friday night at Memorial Coliseum.

  • Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette After stopping a 2-on-1 rush, Komets goaltender Michael Houser, left, tries to keep the Adirondack Thunder's James Henry, right from scoring on the rebound, as Fort Wayne defenseman Bobby Shea, bottom, looks on at Memorial Coliseum on Friday night.

  • Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette Komets defenseman Ryan Culkin, middle, checks on the condition of Adirondack Thunder goaltender Nick Riopel after he crashed into him at Memorial Coliseum, Referee Liam Sewell, right, Thunder forward Brian Ward, left, and a linesman also get in on the conference Friday night. 

  • Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette Komets forward Marc-Olivier Roy, right, reaches to try and steal the puck from the Adirondack Thunder's Ty Loney at Memorial Coliseum on Friday night. 

  • Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette Komets defenseman Ryan Culkin, left, looks for a pass at Memorial Coliseum, as the Adirondack Thunder's Stephen Johnson defends Friday night.

Friday, November 03, 2017 10:50 pm

Offense shaky for Komets in loss

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

Coming into this season, few would have predicted that offense would be the Komets’ problem. But that’s the way it looks right now, as Fort Wayne has averaged only two over their last three games, including a 4-2 loss tonight to the Adirondack Thunder that dropped Fort Wayne to 0-2-1 in its last three games.

The Komets (2-2-1 overall) showed a lot of promise in their first two games – a 4-2 victory over Toledo and an 8-2 victory over Kansas City – and there have been injuries and changes to the lineup since then. But the Komets’ offense was discombobulated for much of the game against the Thunder (4-3-1), a team Fort Wayne had never before met.

(Video highlights are above.)

The Komets had two power plays in the first 4:55 of the game but mustered only three shots on goal. Their third man-advantage paid off with a goal from captain Jamie Schaafsma, who skated out of the right corner, sent a shot off the right leg of goalie Nick Riopel and put the rebound into the net for a 1-0 lead at 8:42.

However, the Thunder’s Brian Ward answered just 1:59 later and his teammate, Shane Conacher, netted a 15-foot shot 1:06 into the second period for a 2-1 lead.

Things could have been worse for the Komets had goalie Michael Houser, who spent last Saturday as the backup goalie for Tucson of the higher-level American Hockey League, not foiled Ty Loney during a 2-on-1 rush.

Houser, who totaled 28 saves, has played in 5 of 6 games this season but Garrett Bartus is sure to get action this weekend with the Komets playing host to the Quad City Mallards on Saturday night and skating in their first road game of the season Sunday at Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Houser didn’t have much help tonight, as Adirondack had 21 of the first 35 shots on goal and took a 3-1 lead at 15:34, when Paul Rodrigues smacked in a slapshot from the left circle after an Eric Neiley pass from behind the net.

Fort Wayne’s Artur Tyanulin, who has two goals in two games since arriving from Tucson, sent the rebound of a Jason Binkley shot into a wide-open net, cutting the Thunder’s lead to 3-2 at 18:47.

The Komets had good chance to tie it 1:30 into the third period after Schaafsma was tripped during a breakaway by Mike Bergin. Referee Liam Sewell awarded a penalty shot to Schaafsma, who used a backhand shot but was thwarted by Riopel, who stopped 29 shots.

Just 3:12 later, Rodrigues by accepting a cross-ice pass and sweeping it underneath Houser for a 4-2 lead.

Notes: Schaafsma’s penalty shot was the first for Fort Wayne since March 22, when Gabriel Desjardins failed to score against Norfolk. … As part of Military Appreciation Weekend, the Komets wore special green jerseys that will be worn again Saturday, against the Quad City Mallards, before the auction of game-worn jerseys is completed. … The Komets used to play the Adirondack Frostbite in the now-defunct United Hockey League. … Before the game, about 22 people were sworn into service in the U.S. Army. … The Komets played without forwards Justin Hodgman (lower body), Desjardins (lower body) and Taylor Crunk, and defensemen Ryan Lowney and Cody Sol (upper body). … Mason Baptista took Crunk’s spot in the lineup and skated only his second game of the season.

jcohn@jg.net