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The Journal Gazette

  • Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette Komets captain Jamie Schaafsma, top, passes the puck out of the defensive zone at Memorial Coliseum on Friday night as Kansas City Mavericks forward Jordan Kwas tries to bat the puck out of mid-air. 

Sunday, November 19, 2017 9:20 pm

Chemistry helping K's

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

The Komets, who defeated the Tulsa Oilers 6-1 tonight at Memorial Coliseum, believe they are close to turning a corner.

There certainly is reason for optimism after a game in which Gabriel Desjardins had a hat trick, the first for a Fort Wayne player since Tyson Fawcett in the season opener, Michael Houser totaled 46 saves, the first Komet to do so since Roman Will on Feb. 14, 2015, before he made it to the NHL and the Komets heeded coach Gary Graham’s call to perform in all three phases of the game.

The 5-on-5 play was strong against the Oilers, who came into the day leading the ECHL with 39.7 shots per game. The goaltending was obviously solid, highlighted by Houser foiling Kale Kessy on a penalty shot (video of it is above).

The special teams? The Fort Wayne power play was 1 for 4, with Shawn Szydlowski netting a pretty sick goal from the right circle that actually broke the water bottle sitting on top of the net (that’s in the video, too), and the penalty kill going 8 for 8.

“Yeah, we’re right there. Grammer said it in the media (session) and he’s said it in the locker room – we just haven’t had everything click at once,” Houser said. “Tonight, I thought we did. We got a power play goal and our 5-on-5 was really good. I thought I had one of my better games of the season, so far, so when those three things happen it’s going to be a 6-1 game like it was.”

Part of the reason things look a little smoother today is chemistry building.

“As a coach, I didn’t do a great job early on and I didn’t have many options about getting set lines going,” Graham said. “You know, our roster, every night we had a different lineup and every night we had different guys who were hurt or injured the first eight games, so we had a lot of different guys playing with different guys. It was hard to get jelling and get the chemistry going.

“This is now three straight games that Kravchenko was playing with (Garrett Thompson) and with (Szydlowski). Now, (Artur) Tyanulin has been playing with (Marco Roy) and with (Desjardins), so they’re getting some chemistry, and (Zac) Larraza is getting some chemistry with (Jamie) Schaafsma. Now we can start trying to hone in on some forward chemistry where guys know how to play with one another. That was kind of difficult in the first 8-10 games of the season.”

The Komets next play their annual Thanksgiving game against the Toledo Walleye. Keep an eye out for some ways to help honor Bob Chase, the late Komets broadcaster, who died on Thanksgiving last year. The Komets will be selling jersey patches and pucks to benefit WOWO’s Penny Pitch, a charitable endeavor that was very close to Chase.