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  • Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette Komets defenseman Will Weber, top, puts the body on Cincinnati's Nick Huard deep in the Komets' zone during the third period of their game on Thursday at Memorial Coliseum.

  • Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette The Komets’ Shawm Szydlowski, left, punches Cincinnati’s Shawn O’Donnell during one of four first-period fights on Thursday at Memorial Coliseum.

  • Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette Shawn Szydlowski, left, punches Cincinnati's Shawn O'Donnell during one of four fights in the first period of their game on Thursday at Memorial Coliseum.

  • Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette Komets goalie Garrett Bartus, right, steers the puck just outside the goal on a shot by Cincinnati forward Colin Mulvey during the second period of their game on Thursday at Memorial Coliseum.

  • Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette Jamie Schaafsma, center left, celebrates with Mike Cazzola, Kyle Thomas and Shawn Szdlowski after Schaafsma scored the game-winning goal in the third period of the Komets' 4-3 win over Cincinnati on Thursday at Memorial Coliseum.

  • Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette Komets defenseman Frank Schumacher poke checks the puck off the stick of Cincinnati's Jordon Sims during the third period of their game on Thursday at Memorial Coliseum.

  • Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette Komets defenseman Will Weber, top, dumps Cincinnati forward Nick Huard deep in the Komets’ zone during the third period on Thursday night.

  • Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette Cincinnati's Arvin Atwal, center left, wraps up Komets forward Kyle Thomas as Thomas brawls with Jordan Sims during a first-period melee on Thursday at Memorial Coliseum.

  • Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette Komets goalie Garrett Bartus, right, reacts after Cincinnati's Seth De Fulvis, top left, beats him for a second-period goal on Thursday at Memorial Coliseum.

  • Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette Komets defenseman Will Weber, left, slams Cincinnati's Shane Walsh into the boards, knocking the puck away from Walsh during the second period of their game on Thursday at Memorial Coliseum.

  • Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette Cincinnati goalie Mark Visentin, left, makes a blocker save on a backhand shot by Shawn Szydlowski during the second period of their game on Thursday at Memorial Coliseum.

  • Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette Komets defenseman Will Weber, left, flips the puck past the head of Cincinnati's Shane Walsh during the first period of their game on Thursday at Memorial Coliseum.

  • Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette Komets forward Mike Embach, center, left, tangles with Cincinnati's Jaynen Rissling in front of the Cyclones' bench during the second period of their game on Thursday at Memorial Coliseum.

  • Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette Komets fans signal the number four after the Komets scored a goal late in the third period to beat Cincinnati 4-3 on Thursday at Memorial Coliseum.

  • Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette Komets forward Mike Cazzola, left, skates toward his teammates as the puck blazes past Cincinnati goalie Mark Visentin on a Jamie Schaafsma shot in the third period of the Komets' 4-3 win over the Cyclones on Thursday at Memorial Coliseum.

  • Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette Kyle Thomas, left, and Shawn Szydlowski celebrate Thomas' second-period goal against Cincinnati on Thursday at Memorial Coliseum.

  • Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette Cincinnati goalie Mark Visentin reach back as the puck gets past him, giving the Komets' Kyle Thomas a goal in the second period on Thursday at Memorial Coliseum.

Thursday, December 29, 2016 8:55 pm

Reviewing Komets' fight-filled victory

Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette

The Komets are missing so many players to injuries and call-ups, coach Gary Graham was understandably nervous seeing a 10-player fracas, four subsequent fights and 92 penalty minutes in Fort Wayne’s 4-3 victory tonight over the Cincinnati Cyclones.

Not only did Fort Wayne’s leading scorer, Shawn Szydlowski, drop the gloves once again, but Dan Milan came down awkwardly on a fight that had everyone nervous before he returned to the game.

The Komets certainly showed their toughness against the Cyclones, who seemed to be in a foul mood as soon as they stepped on to the ice at Memorial Coliseum.

I would expect that when these teams meet again – that would be Jan. 20 (splendidly) at the Coliseum – that the fisticuffs will be renewed.

“I did not like the way that team over there tried to handle the physical play,” Graham said. “They had some big, tough guys grabbing the smallest guys on the ice and I thought that was unbelievable. I don’t know what the game plan was but they were flying in with late hits everywhere and were just really trying to bring something. I think there are a lot of mental notes being taken in (our) locker room for when we get healthy, that’s for sure.”

Graham is not one to provide chalkboard material for the other team; his statement wasn’t really disputable. Not only did Mike Embach, who is 5-foot-10, have to fight 6-4 Jaynen Rissling, but David Friedmann had his first pro fight and others not necessarily accustomed to dropping the gloves stepped up with Cody Sol, Taylor Crunk and Garrett Thompson sitting in the stands.

“The big thing tonight was us sticking together there with those scrums and those fights. It was good to see everyone sticking up for each other. That’s what you want to see from a winning team, that camaraderie, and that we stay together no matter what happens,” said captain Jamie Schaafsma, who had the game-winning, power-play goal with a shot from the right circle 16:36 into the third period, after Cincinnati’s Jacob Graves cross-checked Milan into the boards.

Speaking of that cross-check, it seemed like both teams were trying to one-up the other with bad penalties. The Cyclones had tied it at 3 after a Jason Binkley high-stick, which came just before the Cyclones’ coach mouthed off to the referee and drew a bench minor penalty.

It sounds as if the two newly acquired players, goalie P.J. Musico and defenseman Kyle Flemington, will be in the lineup Saturday against Toledo. It’s even possible that Musico starts. The Komets say they are fine carrying three goalies, not including the injured Pat Nagle, and let them battle it out for position on the depth chart. I don’t think it can be perceived any other way – Eric Hartzell is playing for his job right now.

Szydlowski, who had a goal and two assists tonight, has 19 goals and 45 points in 28 games this season. He’s second in the ECHL in points, four behind Allen’s Chad Costello, who has played five more games.

Mike Cazzola leads ECHL rookies with 13 goals and is tied with Toledo’s Tylor Spink for the lead with 32 points.

Embach, by the way, has a point in four straight games, during which he’s totaled three goals and seven points. That comes on the heels of a slump in which he had one goal in 14 games.

“Obviously, we want to be a better defensive team,” Embach said. “But as long as you’re getting the two points at the end of the day, those are things you can work on in practice and can tighten up. If you’re getting the wins, we’ll take them any way they come, but I’m sure Gary would prefer they just be a little cleaner and more defensively sound.”

jcohn@jg.net