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  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Komets' Garrett Thompson, right, tries to push the puck away from Utah Grizzlies' Taylor Richart during the Fort Wayne Komets vs. Utah Grizzlies hockey game at the Memorial Coliseum on Sunday. GALLERY

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Komets' Gabriel Desjardins, left, tries to make his way to the puck after getting knocked down by Utah Grizzlies players during the Fort Wayne Komets vs. Utah Grizzlies hockey game at the Memorial Coliseum on Sunday. GALLERY

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Komets' Gabriel Desjardins, right, tries to get the puck away from Utah Grizzlies' Ralph Cuddemi during the Fort Wayne Komets vs. Utah Grizzlies hockey game at the Memorial Coliseum on Sunday. GALLERY

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Komets' Cody Sol prepares to pass the puck to a teammate during the Fort Wayne Komets vs. Utah Grizzlies hockey game at the Memorial Coliseum on Sunday. GALLERY

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Komets' Gabriel Desjardins tries to get to the puck as Grizzlies' C.J. Eick, top and Travis Howe try to block him during the Fort Wayne Komets vs. Utah Grizzlies hockey game at the Memorial Coliseum on Sunday. GALLERY

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Komets' Jamie Schaafsma, right, tries to get the puck away from Utah Grizzlies' C.J. Eick during the Fort Wayne Komets vs. Utah Grizzlies hockey game at the Memorial Coliseum on Sunday. GALLERY

Sunday, December 04, 2016 4:58 pm

Szydlowski breaks out in Komets' win

Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette

After leading the Komets in goals and assists each of the last two seasons, forward Shawn Szydlowski came into today with a brisk pace of more than a point per game, but he trailed Kyle Thomas by one goal and three points.

That all changed as Szydlowski broke out in a big way, scoring two goals with two assists in a 4-2 victory over the lowly Utah Grizzlies at Memorial Coliseum.

Szydlowski was given a game misconduct just after putting the Komets up 4-0 with 12:03 left in the third period; Utah’s Travis Howe had just incited a fight with Dan Milan and Szydlowski tossed Howe's elbow pad into the stands.

Szydlowski, who was voted MVP by his teammates the last two seasons, hadn’t had a 3-point game since the 6-2 opening-night victory over the Quad City Mallards.

The Komets swept the Grizzlies in the second round of last season’s playoffs, but this was the first regular-season meeting between the teams since 1999 in the now-defunct International Hockey League.

Fort Wayne (11-5-2) has won four of six, including a 6-5 overtime victory Friday, after it trailed the Missouri Mavericks by four goals in the third period. Utah (7-13-2) has lost nine consecutive games, eight of them in regulation time and one in overtime.

Forward David Friedmann’s goal 6:22 put Fort Wayne ahead 1-0. After a pass from Shawn Szydlowski, Friedmann’s one-timer was stopped by goaltender Ryan Faragher. But the rebound came right to Friedmann, who backhanded the puck from 20 feet out and it caromed off defenseman Mike Banwell and into the net.

After getting pulled down from behind by forward Mathieu Aubin, Szydlowski got a penalty shot 53 seconds into the second period and got a goal. He dragged the puck to his left, his right and back to his left before lifting a backhand shot just beneath the crossbar for a 2-0 lead.

(Video of the shot is above.)

It was the Komets’ first penalty shot since March 23 vs. Wheeling, when Szydlowski failed to score in a 1-0 victory. It was the first time they’ve scored on a penalty shot since the 2012 playoffs, when Mike Vaskivuo beat Wichita’s Bryan Hogan in the Central Hockey League.

Szydlowski got his third point of the game 9:38 into the second period, when he set up Trevor Cheek for goal from the right circle during a power play. It was atonement for Cheek, who led a 2-on-1 rush in the first minute of the game but sent an errant pass that missed Garrett Thompson.

Referee Lucas Martin doled out eight minor penalties in the second period, four of them for slashing, and there was a fight between Cody Sol of Fort Wayne and Alexandre Carrier of Utah that thrilled the crowd of 6,934.

Komets goalie Eric Hartzell preserved his shutout bid with a stop of defenseman Taylor Richart from point-blank range 2:48 into the third period. Hartzell had faced only two shots, stopping one, in relief of Garrett Bartus in Friday’s comeback victory.

The third period saw lots of physical play, including a fight between Fort Wayne’s Will Weber and Utah’s Sam Windle, immediately after Carrier netted a close-range shot for the Grizzlies to trim the lead to 4-1. Windle got tossed for instigating the scrap. Sol and Carrier fought for a second time in the last minute.

Notes: Defenseman Bobby Shea played for the first time since Nov. 11, having missed three games because of a suspension for his actions in a fight at Missouri and four following appendix surgery. … The Komets played without Gabriel Beaupre (concussion), Taylor Crunk (leg), Nagle (ankle), Mason Baptista, Curtis Leonard and Frank Schumacher. … Anthony Mantha had his first point, an assist on the first goal, in his second game with Fort Wayne.

jcohn@jg.net