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The Journal Gazette

  • Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette Komets forward Anthony Petruzzelli, middle, crashes the goaltender, Indy Fuel's Matt Tomkins, right, at Memorial Coliseum on Friday night, as Zach Miskovic trails the play Friday night. 

  • Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette Komets forward Justin Hodgman, center, swipes at the puck at Memorial Coliseum as Indy Fuel goaltender Matt Tomkins, right, gets ready to make a save and Connor Moynihan, left, tries to defend Friday night.

  • Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette Komets forward J.C. Campagna, left, steers the puck up the ice while he's defended by the Indy Fuel's Olivier Lavelle, right, at Memorial Coliseum on Friday night. 

  • Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette Komets forward Anthony Petruzzelli, middle, takes a shot on Indy Fuel goaltender Matt Tomkins, right, as defenseman Zach Miskovic, left, trails the play at Memorial Coliseum on Friday night. 

Friday, November 02, 2018 10:50 pm

Komets' offense ignites for victory

Possible return of Szydlowski looms

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

Wearing Blacksnakes jerseys to honor the 122nd Fighter Wing of the Air National Guard, the Komets lifted off to their finest game of the season – a 5-2 victory over the Indy Fuel – to kickstart Military Appreciation Weekend in front of 8,009 fans at Memorial Coliseum.

Garrett Ladd, who hadn’t played since suffering a concussion in the season-opening 3-1 victory over the Fuel, netted his first two goals with Fort Wayne, which snapped its five-game losing streak.

Fort Wayne will wear the jerseys – and again be called the Blacksnakes – 7:30 p.m. Saturday when it plays host to the Kalamazoo Wings in what will complete a string of eight straight divisional games to open the season.

After that, the plot of this season could certainly thicken since Shawn Szydlowski, who was the ECHL’s MVP and leading scorer last season with the Komets, said he should have a decision about his next destination Sunday after he parted ways with his team in Norway, Frisk Asker.

Reached by The Journal Gazette as he landed in Detroit today, Szydlowski said a return to Fort Wayne, where he’d spent five seasons, was a possibility.

“I’m deciding if I’m going to stay in the U.S. or go to another place in Europe,” Szydlowski said, adding that he didn’t “want to cause any distraction to the (Komets) this weekend.”

Were the Komets to pursue Szydlowski, they would have to cut ties with one of their four veteran players: captain Jamie Schaafsma, Justin Hodgman or Cody Sol, each of whom were teammates of Szydlowski last season when they reached overtime of Game 7 of the Western Conference finals, or Garret Ross.

It should be noted, Szydlowski played a part in recruiting Ross, who has spent the entirety of his career playing above the ECHL level, and Szydlowski might express interest in playing with Ross, so there really are no easy choices if a reunion were to happen.

Asked about the potential of a Szydlowski return, Komets general manager David Franke said: “No comment, I’m just focused on the current team and getting through this weekend.”

Szydlowski had 31 goals and 76 points in 64 games last season, then added four goals and 17 points in 17 playoff games for the Komets. With Frisk Asker, he had four goals and seven points in 11 games.

In this game, the Komets tallied the first 11 shots on goal and that included the first goal of the game, a shot from 15 feet out by captain Jamie Schaafsma, who had missed the previous four games with an upper-body injury.

It didn’t take long for Fort Wayne to build on the lead; during a power play 51 seconds later, Ladd, who had missed the previous five games with a concussion, netted a shot from the left circle for 2-0 lead to make the shots 13-0.

The Komets really had a chance to take control in the early minutes of the second period, but Indy goaltender Matt Tomkins foiled Phelix Martineau and J.C. Campagna on odd-man rushes just seconds apart to keep his team’s deficit at two goals.

Thanks to a Phelix Martineau pass, Fort Wayne’s Marco Roy was alone in front of the net and able to swivel and pop the puck in for a 3-0 lead at 7:16. And Ladd scored on a breakaway for a 4-0 lead at 13:14.

Indy’s Neil Manning ended the shutout bid with a power-play goal at 15:35, but Campagna scored on a breakaway in the third to make it 5-1.

Notes: The Komets played without goaltender Zach Fucale, who was called up Chicago of the American Hockey League this week, Thomas Ebbing, Chris Rygus, Aidan Muir and newly acquired forward Ryan Siiro. … The referee was Jacob Rekucki. ... Cody Sol got a boarding major late in the game.