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  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
    Komets' Will Weber looks for a shot on goal in the first period of Saturday night's game against Quad City at the Coliseum.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
    Komets' Brent Tate keeps an eye on the puck as he brings it down the ice in the first period of Saturday's game against Quad City at the Coliseum.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
    Brady Vail, of the Komets, looks for a shot on goal in the first period of Saturday's game against Quad City at the Coliseum.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
    Komets' Taylor Crunk gets into a fight with Quad City's Alex Gudbranson in the first period of Saturday's game at the Coliseum.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
    Komets' Curtis Leonard

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
    Icy tries to distract Quad City's goalie during Saturday night's game against the Komets at the Coliseum.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
    Komets' Shawn Szydlowski takes a shot on goal with Quad City's Alex Gudbranson trying to block it in the first period of Saturday's game at the Coliseum.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
    Komets' Jason Binkley.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
    Komets' Curtis Leonard.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
    Voices of Unity sang the National Anthem at the opening of the Komets' season Saturday night.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
    Komets' Jason Binkley.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
    Kyle Thomas, of the Komets, keeps control of the puck with Quad City's Nolan LaPorte trying to keep up in the first period of Saturday's game at the Coliseum.
October 15, 2016 10:33 PM

Komets win after 2 Vail goals, 3 fights

Sweep Mallards to open 65th season

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

Brady Vail was a feared opponent of the Komets because of his speed and shooting aptitude. He showed why tonight – but now as a member of the Komets.

In the first home game of their 65th season, Vail scored twice to lead the Komets to a 3-1 victory over the Quad City Mallards.

Fort Wayne swept the season-opening home-and-home series, after winning 6-2 on Friday night at Moline, Illinois, a game in which captain Jamie Schaafsma had two goals, Jason Binkley became the only ECHL defenseman with three points on opening night and Mike Cazzola had a rookie-best three points.

In front of 8,751 fans, the Komets picked up where they left off in that game and sprinkled in a little toughness with three fights. (Video highlights are above.)

Vail got his first goal with the Komets – on their first shot of the game Friday – by putting a 60-foot shot past goalie C.J. Motte, who had stopped 4 of 5 shots in relief of Adam Vay on Friday.

Motte atoned at 12:38 by gloving a shot by forward Kyle Thomas, who was on a breakaway with the Komets playing short-handed, just after a fight between Fort Wayne’s Taylor Crunk and Quad City’s Alex Gudbranson.

Seconds after Fort Wayne’s Cody Sol’s shot at the end of an odd-man rush was blocked by center Brady Brassart, Quad City’s Sam Warning broke in alone on net to tie it at 1 during a power play at 14:01.

Fort Wayne forward Mike Cazzola got his first professional goal, during a power play at 17:22, when he sent a pass through the slot that ricocheted off the stick of Quad City’s Donnie Harris and slithered inside the right goalpost for a 2-1 lead.

Early in the second period, Quad City’s Jack Nevins leveled Will Weber and then fought Mason Baptista.

Soon after, Komets goaltender Pat Nagle came up with three sprawling saves but the puck bounced into the net, after Warning caught it and then dropped it to the ice just outside the crease. Because the puck can’t be played into the net by hand, referee Andy Howard waved the goal off, after a discussion with the linesmen, Ryan Madsen and Jake Davis.

After Fort Wayne’s Sol fought Mike Monfredo, Vail netted another goal at 16:50 by blocking a shot at the blue line, accepting a quick pass from Binkley, hustling for a breakaway and sending a shot past Motte’s glove for a 3-1 lead.

Notes: The extensive pre-game ceremonies included introduction of players from throughout the Komets’ history, from first captain George Drysdale to 2014-15 captain Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock; well wishes to ill broadcaster Bob Chase, who hadn’t missed a home opener in his 64 seasons with the team; and the singing of the Canadian anthem by Tom Didier and the American anthem by the Voices of Unity Choir. … The Komets played without Mike Embach (shoulder), Bobby Shea (shoulder) and Trevor Cheek (with Tucson of higher-level American Hockey League. … Fort Wayne-native Ian Harris, who was in training camp with the Brampton Beast, didn’t make the team.

jcohn@jg.net