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The Journal Gazette

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Komets' Kyle Thomas, left, reaches for the puck as Indy's Tristan King tries to stop him during the second period during the Fort Wayne Komets vs. Indy Fuel hockey game at Memorial Coliseum on Tuesday. GALLERY

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Komets' goalie Garrett Bartus, center, watches the puck as it nears his net during the second period during the Fort Wayne Komets vs. Indy Fuel hockey game at Memorial Coliseum on Tuesday. GALLERY

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Komets' Bobby Shea, left, tries to block the puck shot by Indy's Josh Shalla during the second period during the Fort Wayne Komets vs. Indy Fuel hockey game at Memorial Coliseum on Tuesday. GALLERY  

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Komets' Kyle Follmer, right, shoots the puck as Indy's Collin MacDonald closes in on him during the Fort Wayne Komets vs. Indy Fuel hockey game at Memorial Coliseum on Tuesday. GALLERY

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Komets' Curtis Leonard shoots the puck during the Fort Wayne Komets vs. Indy Fuel hockey game at Memorial Coliseum on Tuesday. GALLERY  

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Komets' Jamie Schaafsma, left, hits the puck into the net scoring a goal as Indy's goaltender Jake Hildebrand watches him do it during the Fort Wayne Komets vs. Indy Fuel hockey game at Memorial Coliseum on Tuesday. GALLERY

Tuesday, December 27, 2016 7:39 pm

Awful to amazing, Komets win

Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette

What had the makings of being another horrible night for the Komets turned into a rousing 8-6 victory, albeit over what’s currently the ECHL’s worst team. Fort Wayne's Shawn Szydlowski and the Indy Fuel's Josh Shalla both scored four times.

Shawn Szydlowski finished a hat trick with a picturesque shot through his own legs from the left side of the net 16:42 into the third period and netted his fourth goal into an empty net – he is now second in the ECHL with 42 points, five behind Allen's Chad Costello – and he led the Komets back from a 6-2 deficit in front of 6,411 spectators at Memorial Coliseum.

Szydlowski is the second Fort Wayne player to have a hat trick this season, joining Mike Cazzola, who had one goal and two assists tonight to take over the lead among ECHL rookies in goals (13) and points (31). Mike Embach scored for a third straight game, on the heels of scoring only once in 14 games for the Komets.

Coming off one of the worst games in their 65-year history, a 6-1 loss Friday to the Brampton Beast in which they mustered only 12 shots on goal, things looked almost as dreadful early as Shalla scored on each of his first four shots.

Fort Wayne improved to 17-8-3.

No player had scored four goals against the Komets since Andrew Martens of the Central Hockey League’s Wichita Thunder in 2011, and Fort Wayne won that game 5-4. Tonight marked the second time in the last six games that an opposing player had at least three goals – Adam Krause had a hat trick in Wheeling’s 6-5 victory Dec. 16.

Szydlowski had a 5-goal game last season against Missouri in a 6-4 victory.

Indy (8-18-2), which has lost 13 straight games, the last 12 in regulation, couldn’t hold on against goaltender Garrett Bartus, who stopped 7 of 8 shots after replacing Eric Hartzell 6:50 into the second period.

Defenseman Will Weber was back from his groin injury but the Komets were still without six regulars – Garrett Thompson (lower body), Cody Sol (knee), Gabriel Beaupre (concussion), Taylor Crunk (ankle), Pat Nagle (ankle) and Trevor Cheek (with Tucson of the American Hockey League) – and Hartzell was pulled after stopping only 11 of 16 shots.

The Fuel opened the scoring 3:55 into the first period when Shalla got to the rebound of a Tristan King shot and put it past Hartzell, who had stopped all 31 shots he faced in the only previous meeting this season with Indy, a 4-0 victory Nov. 4.

Indy’s Alex Guptill circled the net to set up Shalla for his second goal, which was answered by a Szydlowski goal from the blue line during a Fort Wayne power play.

Cazzola, who had been foiled by Fuel goalie Jake Hildebrand on a shot from 12 feet out, atoned by netting a 35-footer at 16:56.

The first intermission didn’t help the Komets’ momentum. Just after the second period started, Gabriel Desjardins got a charging penalty and Shalla scored on the ensuing power play as Hartzell fell to the ice for a 4-2 lead.

After the puck caromed off Hartzell’s glove and to the left circle, Indy’s Zach Miskovic scored for a 5-2 lead. A goal by Indy’s Kevin Lynch, who put the puck between the legs of Bartus, was followed by Fort Wayne’s Brady Vail netting a shot from the right circle at 11:00 of the second period.

Seconds after Bartus foiled Guptill at the end of a 3-on-1 rush, Weber’s shot from the blue line sailed through a crowd and into the top of the net at 18:10, cutting Indy’s lead to two at 6-4.

Embach scored for the Komets at 4:21 of the third period, thanks to a spinning pass from Cazzola. Szydlowski redirected a Bobby Shea shot at 7:04 to tie it at 6.

Notes: King played 12 games for the Komets in 2013-14, tallying one assist with a minus-12 rating. … Ramsay left the game late in the second period after a Dan Milan hit, for which he was penalized for interference by referee Sean Fernandez. … The Komets play host to the Cincinnati Cyclones on Thursday night.