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The Journal Gazette

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Travis Ewanyk, of the Komets, keeps his eye on the puck as he works his way around the defense of Wheeling's Danny Fick in the first period of Sunday's game at the Memorial Coliseum.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Brett Perlini, of the Komets, keeps his eye on the puck as he brings it around the ice in the first period of Sunday's game at the Memorial Coliseum against Wheeling.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Komets Jason Blinkley.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Komets' Jason Blinkley races to get to the puck before Wheeling's Adam Krause in the first period of Sunday's game at the Memorial Coliseum.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Trevor Cheek, of the Komets, keeps his eye on the puck as he leaves Wheeling's Mike Krieg behind him in the first period of Sunday's game at the Memorial Coliseum.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Komets' Travis Ewanyk takes a shot on goal around the defense of Wheeling's Mike Krieg in the first period of Sunday's game at the Memorial Coliseum.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Komets' Gabriel Desjardins takes a hit in the first period of Sunday's game at the Memorial Coliseum against Wheeling.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock, former Komets captain, and dance partner Kelly Bartlett, perform between periods in support of Riley Children's Hospital in between periods at Sunday's game at the Memorial Coliseum.

Sunday, March 05, 2017 10:27 pm

K's continue to befuddle Wheeling

Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette

Even though the Komets won all but one of the games between the teams this season, one has to wonder just how exciting a playoff series between Fort Wayne and the Wheeling Nailers would be.

In the latest exciting game between the teams, the Komets emerged with a 2-1 victory today at Memorial Coliseum.

Goaltender Pat Nagle had 29 saves, and Mike Cazzola had the winning power-play goal as the Komets (35-15-7) had two goals disallowed yet extended their impressive recent run to 13-2-3.

On the power play, Fort Wayne was 1 for 4 and is 8 for 18 against the Nailers this season. Wheeling was 0 for 6 today. 

Fort Wayne is 4-1-0 this season against the Nailers (28-23-6) and they won’t meet again unless it’s in the Kelly Cup Finals.

Last season, Wheeling lost to Allen in the finals.

The Komets recovered from a one-goal deficit and here’s an interesting statistic: While teams that score first have won 73.5 percent of the ECHL’s games this season, the Komets are 11-8-5.

The Komets play Friday and Saturday at Indianapolis.

The Komets had come back from two-goal deficits to defeat the Nailers 4-3 in back-to-back games. In Saturday’s victory, the goaltending of Garrett Bartus, who had 27 saves, was instrumental in putting the Komets in position to get the winning goal from Trevor Cheek.

Nagle was in net for the Komets today and he stopped all 11 shots he faced in the scoreless first period, including one on former teammate Garrett Meurs at the end of a 2-on-1 rush. Wheeling’s goalie, Sean Maguire, was also strong early, stopping Shawn Szydlowski from point-blank range with a kick save on the first shot of the game. Szydlowski had another excellent chance to score, 10:35 into the period, after he stole the puck at center ice but he hit the post with a rocketing shot from the right circle.

The game lacked the physical intensity of the night before, though there was an eight-player melee in the corner 6:50 into the second period, with Fort Wayne’s Jason Binkley and Wheeling’s Ross McMullan throwing the most punches and getting eight penalty minutes between them from referee Jonathan Sitarski.

The Komets, who had 19 of the second-period’s 25 shots, thought they had nabbed a lead when Gabriel Desjardins smacked the puck out of mid-air into the net at 11:40. But Sitarski had simultaneously blown the whistle to call a cross-checking penalty on Trevor Cheek, so the goal was waved off.

With the teams skating 4-on-4 38 seconds later, Wheeling’s Gage Quinney got behind three defenders and sent a short wrist shot past Nagle’s stick for a 1-0 lead. Fort Wayne’s Brett Perlini tied it at 17:53 by skating out from behind the net and blasting the puck in from 10 feet, after Cazzola’s relentlessness in the corner led to a great centering pass.

Just 26 seconds into the third period, Cazzola netted a power play goal with a blistering shot from the right circle that stayed just underneath the crossbar during a power play.

The Komets had another goal waved off at 6:37 – this one more controversially – after Szydlowski snapped the puck from the left circle toward the upper-right corner of the net. The goal judge had turned the light on, but Sitarski conferred with the linesmen and negated it, keeping the Komets’ lead at 1.

With the Komets shorthanded, Nagle came up with a couple of saves against Adam Krause from within 8 feet to preserve the lead.

Notes: Video highlights of the game can be found at: vimeo.com/207039142. … Former Komets captain Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock ballroom danced during the first intermission. He’s taking part in the Reason to Dance, Reason for Hope event Friday in Indianapolis, to raise money for the Riley Children’s Foundation (video of his performance is above). For information on donating, visit: reasontodance.org/celebrities/kaleigh-schrock/. … The Komets were without Kyle Thomas (Cleveland of American Hockey League), Bobby Shea (Rochester of AHL), captain Jamie Schaafsma (finger), Gabriel Beaupre (concussion), Kyle Follmer and Taylor Crunk. … In his first call-up to the AHL, Thomas has one goal on 12 shots, two penalty minutes and a minus-2 rating in eight games.

jcohn@jg.net