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  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Shawn Szydlowski of the Komets has scored five goals in the past six games, focusing more on not passing up shots.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017 1:00 am

Szydlowski not passing on his shots

Right wing pushed to focus on scoring over setting up teammates

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

Komets at Toledo

When: 10:30 a.m. today

Radio: 1380 AM, 100.9 FM

Shawn Szydlowski did a remarkable job setting up his teammates for goals over the last two seasons – racking up 91 assists in 112 games – but the Komets this season have emphasized the idea that they shouldn't neglect open shots for passes.

In short, they want him shooting more. And he wanted to return to scoring goals like he did in 2014-15, when he had a career-best 38 along with 74 points in 57 games.

It's been happening lately. Szydlowski has netted a goal in five of the last six games, totaling 11 points, and the Komets have lost only one of those games.

“I enjoy setting people up,” said Szydlowski, a 27-year-old right wing who has played for the Komets since 2013. “It's always fun making a nice pass and seeing other guys score. But obviously, even (teammate Mason Baptista) has been on me saying, 'Shooters shoot.' It's so true. I had 41 goals in my last year of juniors and haven't come close to that really since my second year in Fort Wayne. I've been trying to get back to that – shooting the puck. And I think it's going well.”

Szydlowski, who has played 16 games this season, leads the team in goals (nine) and points (21), is tied with Jason Binkley for the lead in assists (12), and has a plus-3 rating, some key fights and the only goal in the overtime shootout Friday when the Komets beat the Toledo Walleye 3-2 at Memorial Coliseum.

The Komets play at Toledo at 10:30 a.m. today. After struggling against the Walleye last season, including a second-round playoff loss, the Komets have won three of the four meetings this season.

“You're playing a highly offensive team that has a lot of guys who can go (fast), with seven (higher-level) contract forwards with a lot of speed,” said Komets coach Gary Graham, whose team is 10-6-2.

The Walleye is 14-4-2, led by former Komet Pat Nagle, the ECHL's reigning Goaltender of the Month after a 7-1-1 record with a 2.66 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage.

Szydlowski's six-game point-scoring streak is tied for the fourth longest in the league right now and has been crucial for the Komets, who have been decimated by injuries and call-ups. They played last weekend without Justin Hodgman (shoulder), Gabriel Desjardins (groin), Dennis Kravchenko (back), Marco Roy (with San Jose of American Hockey League), Artur Tyanulin (Tucson of AHL) and Jamie Schaafsma (illness).

Tyanulin, however, is back with the Komets after not suiting up for the Roadrunners. He's got five goals and 13 points in 10 games with the Komets this season. Schaafsma should also be back.

Szydlowski, who totaled 50 goals over the last two seasons, is used to being one of the focal points of the Fort Wayne offense, which ranks fifth in the league with 3.67 goals per game. The defense ranks 12th with 3.06 goals against per game. He has tallied a point in every road game this season.

“I think (my play lately) is really just mental,” he said. “At this age, I think you pretty much have the skill set you're going to have. It's just more finding what works for you, and I've been trying to take care of myself off the ice. When I'm on the ice, just work hard and keep up the mental side.

“We're all here for a reason and you've got to remember it.”

jcohn@jg.net