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The Journal Gazette

Friday, February 09, 2018 10:50 pm

Komets wallop Wichita again

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

You may want to mark your calendars for March 24 because that’s the next time the Wichita Thunder plays at Memorial Coliseum.

The Komets and their fans had so much fun in these two games, the next one should be worth the price of admission.

Garrett Thompson had two goals and four points, ECHL leading scorer Shawn Szydlowski had four assists and a fight, and Justin Hodgman scored his first goal since Oct. 20, propelling the Komets to a convincing 8-4 victory in front of 7,191 fans.

Fort Wayne has won 10 of its last 11 games. During that stretch, it has outscored the opposition 64-35, including 17-7 in the back-to-back victories over Wichita.

Goaltender Michael Houser stopped 24 shots for the Komets (31-13-2), who handed the Thunder (25-18-3) its fifth loss in its last six games.

The Komets begin a home-and-home series with the Quad City Mallards on Saturday in Moline, Illinois.

Fort Wayne’s Mason Baptista opened the scoring on the game’s second shot, snapped from the left circle 2:56 into the first period. On Wednesday, Baptista scored on the game’s first shot.

Wichita thought it had it tied at 4:06, when Nick Latta rifled the puck in from the left circle, but referee Chris Pontes waved the goal off. Though no explanation was given to the fans as to why, an off-ice official said Pontes had determined the net was off its moorings, though video replay seemed to show otherwise.

Latta was given an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty for arguing the call and the Komets almost increased their lead on the ensuing power play without scoring. After Latta was released from the penalty box, he fought Szydlowski.

But the Thunder did even the score before the period expired. After a shot by Fort Wayne’s Ryan Lowney got blocked at the Wichita blue line, setting up an odd-man rush in the opposite direction, the Komets’ Ryan Culkin dove to try and intercept the puck and missed, and Kevin Dufour wound up tying it at 17:33.

For the second straight game, a bad Dyson Stevenson penalty set the Komets up for a key Trevor Cheek power-play goal. This one came on an 18-foot shot after Dennis Kravchenko’s pass from the blue line put Hodgman in position off the left post to thread a pass to Cheek at 8:14 of the second period.

Hodgman made it 3-1 with a shot from between the circles at 16:07 and Marco Roy scored on the next shot, dropping a pass for Thompson and then redirecting his shot into an open net at 17:06.

But the Thunder answered with a short-handed goal off Latta’s stick at 18:10.

The Komets cemented the game with third-period goals from Louick Marcotte and Thompson for a 6-2 lead. Marcotte began the season with Wichita and was traded to the Komets for Ralph Cuddemi on Nov. 17.

Thompson netted a short-handed goal for a 7-3 lead at 8:28; it was his 21st goal of the season.