Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Mason Baptista of the Komets prepares to attack the goal during the first period against the Allen Americans at Memorial Coliseum on Saturday night.
Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Stephen Williams of the Allen Americans barely stops a shot by the Komets during the first period at Memorial Coliseum on Saturday night.
Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Marc-Olivier Roy drives the puck past Bryan Moore during the first period at Memorial Coliseum on Saturday night.
Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Bobby Shea of the Komets and Oliver Archembault of the Allen Americans exchange punches during the first period at Memorial Coliseum on Saturday night.
Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Ryan Culkin of the Komets stops Allen American’s Joel Chouinard during the first period atMemorial Coliseum on Saturday night.
Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Gabriel Desjardins of the Komets shoots the puck during the first period against the Allen Americans at Memorial Coliseum on Saturday night.
Saturday, January 20, 2018 11:00 pm
K's fidget way to victory over Allen
JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette
The only things working harder than the goaltenders Saturday may have been the 1,000 fidget spinners the Komets gave away to their fans, who had plenty of nervous energy to channel as the Allen Americans gave them fits for two periods at Memorial Coliseum.
Those little orange keepsakes, however, will serve as a reminder of the Komets’ latest comeback victory – 5-3, decided by consecutive goals from Shawn Szydlowski, Cody Sol, Marco Roy and Garrett Thompson that took Fort Wayne out of a one-goal third-period deficit in front of a sellout crowd of 10,479 fans.
Szydlowski tied it at 2 after Gabriel Desjardins set him up at the end of a 2-on-1 rush 2:53 into the third period. Sol netted a blistering slap shot from the blue line at 7:06 and Roy, who has three goals and five points in two games since returning from Utica of the higher-level American Hockey League, scored from the left circle 1:26 later. Thompson made it 5-2 with a redirection at 10:16.
The key for the Komets was cutting down on the myriad turnovers that dogged them in the first two periods.
“It’s just being smarter with the puck,” Sol said. “It’s a long game and you’ve got to be careful the entire game with the turnovers. But especially in the third, with a crowd like this and being down 2-1, you’ve got to play your best. Turnovers are key in the game and limiting them in the third period was huge.”
The Komets (24-12-2) have won three straight games. Allen (20-15-5) has lost three in a row.
About the turnovers, Komets coach Gary Graham said: “We had some timing issues with some things we were trying to do, so if one guy is off then the whole thing doesn’t work and we thought we would try and clean the whole area up. The game of hockey, it doesn’t matter what level, it’s all about winning races. The game’s about speed and about winning races. If you win races, you can get in there and retrieve the puck. If you lose races, they’re making an easy breakout (against you) usually. We weren’t doing a good job early on, and they have a good puck moving (defense) that can carve you up in transition, so … once we were able to start putting things into place where we could get over top of the puck was when we were able to start having successes.”
For Superhero Night, the Komets wore special jerseys with mascot Icy D. Eagle on the front and a fireball on the back, and they were auctioned off to benefit Police, Fire and EMS department charities.
It was the first meeting between the teams since Fort Wayne’s 5-0 victory at the Coliseum on Oct. 28, 2016, the game in which Allen’s Spencer Asuchak checked former Fort Wayne goaltender Pat Nagle and injured his ankle.
This wasn’t an easy game to be a goalie, either, and not just because of the nifty shots they faced. Fort Wayne’s Michael Houser was roughed up by Alex Guptill and Allen’s Stephon Williams was shouldered in the face by Zac Larraza.
The teams, who combined to win the final three championships in the now defunct Central Hockey League, met in the 2016 ECHL Western Conference finals, which the Americans won 4-1.
They meet again 5 p.m. Sunday at the Coliseum.
Coming into the game, Allen’s Casey Pierro-Zabotel led the ECHL in scoring with 10 goals and 44 points and Szydlowski was tied for second with 20 goals and 43 points. Both had a goal and an assist in this game.
It didn’t take long for Pierro-Zabotel to get the upper hand, though, with him making it 1-0 by netting a shot at the end of a 2-on-2 rush 5:24 into the first period.
The Komets had plenty of chances to tie it, but Williams made several acrobatic saves, including one on captain Jamie Schaafsma at the end of a 2-on-1 rush at 12:04. Schaafsma won three championships with the Americans in the CHL and ECHL, and was their captain, too.
The Americans opened the second period with a flurry of offensive opportunities – they had all eight shots of the first 4:34 – and that included a goal by Olivier Archambault on a shot from the left circle for a 2-0 lead.
Roy netted a power-play goal at 5:35 by getting to a loose puck, faking into his backhand and sending a shot into an open net. Roy has eight goals and 22 points in 16 Fort Wayne games this season and totaled two goals in 13 AHL games with Utica and San Jose this season.
Houser stopped 30 shots.
Notes: Szydlowski's jersey sold for the most at $1,527. ... The Stanley Cup will be on display during the Komets’ game March 11 against Kalamazoo, during the team’s Hall of Fame weekend. The Cup was last in Fort Wayne in 2012 when former player and coach Robbie Laird brought it after it was won by the Los Angeles Kings, with whom he’s a senior scout. As part of the festivities with the Cup and representatives of the Hockey Hall of Fame, former Komets goaltender Chuck Adamson will be recognized as one of the first professional goalies to wear as mask.