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The Journal Gazette

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Komets' goalie Pat Nagle keeps an eye on the play in front of the net in the first period of Friday night's game at the Memorial Coliseum against Rapid City.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Gabriel Desjardins, of the Komets, takes a shot on goal in the first period of Friday night's game at the Memorial Coliseum against Rapid City.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Mason Baptista, of the Komets, takes a shot on goal in the first period of Friday night's game at the Memorial Coliseum against Rapid City.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette With Rapid City's Dysin Mayo trying to block him Komets' Garrett Thompson takes a shot on goal in the first period of Friday night's game at the Memorial Coliseum.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Komets' goalie Pat Nagle keeps an eye on the play behind the net in the first period of Friday night's game at the Memorial Coliseum against Rapid City.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Curtis Leonard, of the Komets, takes a shot on goal in the first period of Friday night's game at the Memorial Coliseum against Rapid City.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette With the Komets' bench looking on, Mike Embach brings the puck down the ice in the first period of Friday night's game at the Memorial Coliseum against Rapid City.

Friday, February 03, 2017 7:47 pm

Komets' Nagle, Embach get victory in Rush

Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette

The Komets were back on home ice. And back to winning.

Even though Mason Baptistia’s goal-scoring streak came to a close at six games, Mike Embach scored twice and the Komets defeated Rapid City 4-3 in the only meeting of the season between the former rivals from the Central Hockey League.

The Komets hadn’t played at the Coliseum since a 4-2 victory over the Cincinnati Cyclones on Jan. 20, after which they went 2-3 on a road trip that ended with a 6-1 loss Saturday at Reading, Pennsylvania.

Goaltender Pat Nagle, who had missed 37 consecutive games with a high ankle sprain, was back in the net for the Komets in front of 8,215 fans at Memorial Coliseum and stopped 34 shots. (Video highlights from the game are above.)

Fort Wayne totaled 48 shots.

The Komets were all over the Rush almost immediately; Taylor Crunk had a shot from point-blank range 20 seconds into the game and Garrett Thompson was stopped on the rebound by goaltender Adam Morrison, who played one game last season for Fort Wayne.

But on the Komets' fourth shot, a one-timer from the right circle by Gabriel Desjardins, the Komets took a 1-0 lead. And during a power play at 4:28, Embach made it 2-0 by redirecting Curtis Leonard’s shot from just inside the blue line.

Leonard had two assists.

Nagle, meanwhile, looked great early. His first save came on a breakaway by Lindsay Sparks, just back from Tucson of the higher-level American Hockey League, and he stopped the Rush’s leading scorer, Ryan Walters, by gloving a 20-foot shot at the end of a 2-on-1 rush at 8:01.

Nagle, who is in his third season with the Komets, suffered his ankle injury early in a 5-0 victory over defending-champion Allen on Oct. 28, when he was cross-checked by Spencer Asuchak and fell backward awkwardly.

The Komets used four other goalies while Nagle was out – Eric Hartzell, Garrett Bartus, Keegan Asmundson and P.J. Musico – and only Bartus and Musico remain on the roster. Nagle, who is 3-0-0 this season, has compiled a 54-19-10 regular-season record and a 12-8 playoff record with the Komets.

The Komets had 16 of the first period’s 27 shots, including one with seconds left from Kyle Thomas at the end of a 2-on-1 rush that was blocked away by Morrison to keep the Fort Wayne lead at 2-0.

Jamie Schaafsma made it 3-0 by scoring into an open net 12:35 into the second period, after the puck had hopped off the boards in the corner and Mike Cazzola tipped a short pass across the slot to the Komets’ captain.

Rapid City answered 1:04 later when Mark Cooper attacked the net, smacked his stick at the left goal post and managed to chip a loose puck past Nagle.

Rapid City’s Hunter Fejes, who also had just returned from Tucscon, scored a short-handed goal by skating around Leonard and Brady Vail, then tucking the puck underneath Nagle, 6:41 into the third period. But Embach regained a two-goal lead for Fort Wayne by whipping a 30-foot shot past Morrison at 12:43.

The Komets play Saturday in Indianapolis against the Central Division-worst Indy Fuel.

Notes: The Komets held a moment of silence for longtime bus driver Jack Loser, who died Monday at 82. … George Drysdale, who was the Komets’ first captain back in 1952, celebrated his 90th birthday Jan. 27 and dropped the puck for the ceremonial opening faceoff. … The referee was Tyler Puddifant.

jcohn@jg.net