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The Journal Gazette

  • Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette Komets forward Garrett Thompson, top, points toward a teammate after scoring in the first period at Memorial Coliseum, as Indy Fuel goaltender Eric Levine looks for the puck and teammates Alex Wideman and Nick Mattson look on Friday night.

  • Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette Komets goaltender Eric Hartzell, top, turns away a shot from Indy Fuel forward Patrick D'Amico on Friday at Memorial Coliseum.

  • Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette Komets forward Mike Embach, right, played his first game of the season and had to be stopped on several shots early by Indy Fuel goaltender Eric Levine, left, on Friday night at Memorial Coliseum. 

  • Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette Komets forward Kyle Thomas stretches for a shot past sprawled goaltender Eric Levine of the Indy Fuel, but the puck would go just wide at Memorial Coliseum. Trailing the play are Drew Schiestel, left, and Jonathan Carlsson, bottom. 

  • Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette Komets goaltender Eric Hartzell, top, makes a save on Indy Fuel forward Brady Ramsay with Gabriel Beaupre between them at Memorial Coliseum. 

  • Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette Komets forward Garrett Thompson, bottom, controls the puck at Memorial Coliseum in front of Patrick D'Amico and goaltender Eric Levine of the Indy Fuel.

Friday, November 04, 2016 8:09 pm

Cheek, Hartzell leads K's to shutout win

Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette

Trevor Cheek didn’t get a chance to play when he was Tucson of the American Hockey League. But if he plays like he did tonight – his first game of the season with the Komets – some other AHL squad could give him a look soon.

Cheek had a goal and assisted on two others, as the Komets defeated the Indy Fuel 4-0 in front of 7,816 fans at Memorial Coliseum.

“Here’s a guy who had a great training camp out in Tucson but was that oddball out there,” Komets coach Gary Graham said. “So he hasn’t played in games in maybe three weeks now. So I thought his energy levels were outstanding. He played in all three phases of the game – penalty kill, power play, 4-on-4, everything – and he played a regular shift. He played a lot of minutes and he looks like he was in great shape, so that’s a real positive.”

Eric Hartzell stopped 31 shots for the Komets’ second shutout of the last three games.

Fort Wayne has won 3 of 4 games at the Coliseum and is 5-2-0 in its 65th season. The Fuel dropped to 2-4-1, including a 1-3-0 road mark.

Friday was the Komets’ second game without goaltender Pat Nagle, who suffered a high ankle sprain against defending-champion Allen on Oct. 28 and will be out at least a month, so again Hartzell was in net with Keegan Asmundson backing up. In the 5-0 victory over Allen, Nagle stopped three shots and Hartzell stopped 24 for the shutout.

After stopping 20 shots in Wednesday’s 4-3 loss at Cincinnati, Ohio, Hartzell got a little help early Friday when Indy’s Kevin Lynch got behind the defense and opted to forego a shot in favor of a pass that was missed by his teammates.

Fort Wayne’s best early scoring chance came from forward Kyle Thomas, who faked goalie Eric Levine to the ice and then missed the net as he was tripped from behind, but the Komets netted the first goal at 16:04 of the first period. Cheek sent a pass to the center of the ice for forward Garrett Thompson, who shot into an open net.

Forward Mike Embach also played his first game of the season, after sitting out the first six because of a shoulder injury, and two-time team MVP Shawn Szydlowski was back after a one-game absence due to illness.

To make room, the Komets released forwards Brent Tate, who had one assist and 18 penalty minutes in five games, and Andrew Huff, who had one assist in four games.

After a brief second-period fracas between Fort Wayne’s Cody Sol and Indy’s Chris Williams, the teams were skating 4-on-4 and the Komets got a 3-on-1 rush that saw Szydlowski’s shot from the left circle at 17:10 get kicked away by Levine, who played a game with Fort Wayne in 2014-15.

Fort Wayne defenseman Gabriel Beaupre netted a shot from 40 feet out to make it 2-0 during a power at 11:27 of the third period, after Patrick D’Amico was penalized by referee Lucas Martin for tripping. Cheek made it 3-0 at 13:46 by getting the puck 15 feet out, switching from his forehand to his backhand and flicking the puck in as he fell to the ice.

Szydlowski got an empty-net goal, set up by Cheek, with the Fuel on a power play at 18:39.

jcohn@jg.net