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The Journal Gazette

  • Whiteshark Photography Indy Fuel forward Olivier Labelle collides with Komets goaltender Zach Fucale, on the ice, setting off a melee at Indiana Farmers Coliseum on Friday night in Indianapolis.

  • Whiteshark Photography Komets forward Brady Shaw tries to maintain control of the puck at Indiana Farmers Coliseum as he's wrapped up by the Indy Fuel's Josh McArdle on Friday night in Indianapolis. 

  • Whiteshark Photography Komets forward Jake Kamrass redirects a shot at Indiana Farmers Coliseum that is stopped by Indy Fuel goaltender Matt Tomkins on Friday night in Indianapolis. 

  • Whiteshark Photography Indy Fuel forward Mathew Thompson, middle, goes flying after he's checked by the Komets' Shawn Szydlowski, middle left, opening things up for Ryan Lowney, No. 71, to get the puck Friday at Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis.

Saturday, April 06, 2019 12:27 am

K's win, cement spot in playoffs

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – Talk about rare situations.

The Indy Fuel pulled its goalie for an extra attacker – in a tied game – for the final minute of regulation time.

It didn’t work, though the Fuel got a couple of opportunities to score.

That the Komets won 3-2 in an overtime shootout – getting goals from J.C. Campagna and Anthony Nellis – didn’t matter much. The standings point the Komets got for reaching overtime put them into the postseason and meant the Fuel was out of contention.

The Komets are still fighting with Kalamazoo for the third seed in the Central Division, which would mean a matchup with Toledo instead of Cincinnati.

There was an ugly scene in overtime, when Indy’s Ryan Rupert ran Fort Wayne’s Sean Flanagan into the boards from behind, then punched linesman Christopher Williams while trying to fight, sending both Flanagan and Williams to the ice injured and then out of the game.

Rupert got two misconducts and a major penalty for the incidents.

A crowd of 5,401 was on hand at Indiana Farmers Coliseum for the Fuel’s final home game of its fifth regular season.

After their debacle Wednesday, when they gave up five unanswered goals in a 5-3 loss at Memorial Coliseum to the Fuel, which was therefore able to keep its slim playoff hopes alive, the Komets got some good news on the health front: defensemen Cody Sol and Chase Stewart would be back tonight from their ankle injuries. Sol, an alternate captain, had missed 20 games. Stewart, a rookie, had missed nine.

The Komets had the first three shots of the game, including the one that opened the scoring at 1:44 by Brady Shaw, who came around the back of the net and slipped the puck between the right post and the outstretched leg of Fuel netminder Matt Tomkins.

Tomkins atoned by stopping two Jake Kamrass shots from point-blank range and the physical play intensified when Stewart upended Travis Brown after the whistle had blown for the Fuel being offside.

Stewart didn’t get a penalty but captain Jamie Schaafsma did seconds later, for interference, and that set up Indy’s Brett Welychka for the game-tying power-play goal at 14:35, when he redirected a Zach Miskovic blue-line shot.

Despite a 19-10 advantage in first-period shots, the Komets needed more than 8 minutes to get their first shot of the second period. Goalie Zach Fucale, however, came up big, stopping a Matt Rupert blast from point-blank range at 4:00 to keep it tied at 1.

Fucale stopped a Josh Shalla breakaway at 10:20, shortly after Fort Wayne’s Kamrass had narrowly missed a goal, hitting the left post, at the other end of the ice.

After the Komets failed on several attempts to clear the puck from their zone, the Fuel capitalized with a Woody Hudson shot from 14 feet for a 2-1 lead at 15:29.

After Indy’s Olivier Labelle collided with Fucale, sparking an 11-player scrum, and Indy’s Ryan Rupert got a penalty for delay of game for chipping the puck into the stands, the Komets got a 5-on-3 power play and took advantage Shawn Szydlowski, who had hit the post earlier in the 5-on-3, netted a slapshot from the left circle to tie it at 2 at 17:40.

Fucale finished with 31 saves. Tomkins had 44.

The Komets play host to the regular-season champion Cincinnati Cyclones at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. It will be Marvel Superhero Night and the Komets will wear Black Panther jerseys. Fans are invited to dress as their favorite characters, and meet some of the Marvel heroes on hand.

Notes: The referee was Sean MacFarlane. … Newfoundland’s Zach O’Brien won the ECHL’s Sportsmanship Award, voted on by coaches, reporters, broadcasters and media-relations directors. Derek Nesbitt of Atlanta was second and Kalamazoo’s Chris Collins third. … Adirondack’s James Henry won the Community Service Award. Jamie Schaafsma had been the Komets’ nominee.

jcohn@jg.net