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The Journal Gazette

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Komets' Joseph Widmar, right, tries to get to the puck as Cyclones goaltender Anthony Peters attempts to cover it Saturday at Memorial Coliseum.

  • Komets’ Jamie Schaafsma tries to gain possession of the puck as Cyclones’ Blake Thompson pursues him on Saturday.

Sunday, November 26, 2017 1:00 am

Cincinnati 4, Komets 1

Cyclones jump out quickly

Komets unable to recover from early 2-0 deficit

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

The Komets have been trending in the right direction – they've won 3 of 4 games for the first time this season – but Saturday's 4-1 loss to the Cincinnati Cyclones was a reminder there is much improvement still necessary.

Not only did the Komets put themselves in an early two-goal hole in front of 7,189 antsy Memorial Coliseum fans, but only Shawn Szydlowski was able to solve goaltender Anthony Peters on a night he turned away 37 shots.

Fort Wayne (8-6-2) showed positives, including 3-for-3 penalty killing that included giving up only three shots during a five-minute, third-period power play after Cody Sol was given a major penalty and a game misconduct for driving Rob De Fulviis headfirst into the boards. There also were fights by Taylor Crunk and Louick Marcotte against Chris Leone and Shawn O'Donnell, respectively, that helped energize the building.

Tempering things, though, was the knowledge that the Cyclones (10-5-1) came into the night besieged by eight injuries – they fielded a lineup two men short of the regular 18 – yet the Cyclones were still able to win enough battles in front of the nets to win the game.

“They're finding ways of winning games and you've got to tip your hat to them,” Komets coach Gary Graham said of the Cyclones, who have won three in a row. “They had two chances and two goals in the first period. Again, we did a lot of good things tonight, but we just couldn't find a way (to win). It was about who won the net-front battles.”

Justin Danforth scored the first goal, 7:07 into the first period, by getting to the rebound of an O'Donnell shot and chipping it into an open net. Cincinnati made it 2-0 after a Danforth shot from the blue line was stopped by Komets goaltender Michael Houser, who played last season for the Cyclones, and Jesse Schultz was able to put in another rebound – on just the Cyclones' sixth shot.

“The difference right now, most of the time, if we lose these tight games, is that we either don't win the net-front battle in the offensive zone with rebounds, burying rebounds, or we're giving up too many easy goals around our net area,” Graham said. “That was basically the story tonight – they won the battle of the paint, for sure.”

Szydlowski's power-play goal 13:11 into the third period, on a shot from the right circle, preceded empty-net goals by Cyclones Winston Day Chief and Mitch Nylen.

“Starting in a hole isn't the way we want to start a game,” Komets forward Garrett Thompson said. “They had a few shots on net and the rebounds were there, and they capitalized on them. That's not a way to go into a game, when you've got to fight back the whole game. That's where we were.”

Already without Artur Tyanulin and Marco Roy, who were called up to Tucson and San Diego of the American Hockey League, and Justin Hodgman, who has an upper-body injury, the Komets lost Dennis Kravchenko to a head injury Friday.

So the Komets signed Phil Bushbacher on Friday and on Saturday morning added forward Joseph Widmar, 22, from Peoria of the Single-A Southern Professional Hockey League. Then, the Komets traded future considerations to the Orlando Solar Bears for 24-year-old center Logan Nelson, a fifth-round pick of the NHL's Buffalo Sabres in the 2012 draft. He had three assists in seven games with Orlando, after tallying two assists in nine games with Norfolk.

jcohn@jg.net