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The Journal Gazette

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette The Komets’ Shawn Szydlowski celebrates with teammate Mason Baptista after Baptista scored the first goal of Wednesday’s game.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette The Komets' Trevor Cheek takes control of the puck during the second period Wednesday against Wichita at the Coliseum. 

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette The Komets' Louick Marcotte, left, shoots the puck past the Thunder's Travis Brown during the second period Wednesday at the Coliseum.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette The Komets' Cody Sol grabs the puck against Wichita at the Coliseum on Wednesday.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette The Komets' Shawn Szydlowski, left, shoots the puck past the Thunder's Jeremy Beaudry during the second period Wednesday at the Coliseum.  

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette The Komets' Louick Marcotte, left, defends against the Thunder's Jeremy Beaudry during the first period Wednesday at the Coliseum.  

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette The Komets' Mason Baptista, left, shoots the puck past Thunder goalie Shane Starrett for the first goal of the game in the first period Wednesday at the Coliseum.  

Thursday, February 08, 2018 1:00 am

komets 9 wichita 3

Komets silence Thunder

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

Poor Jamie Schaafsma.

Not only was he the only one of the Komets’ skaters to emerge from Wednesday’s 9-3 shellacking of the Wichita Thunder without a goal or assist, but the captain also took the brunt of the scariest moment of the night – a high-stick to his face.

Schaafsma, who didn’t miss a shift and spent a third straight game playing defense instead of his usual center position, should really get an honorary assist. On the ensuing four-minute power play, Trevor Cheek rifled a shot past Shane Starrett for a 3-2 lead 6:15 into the second period.

That was the second of eight straight goals scored by the Komets (30-13-2), who have won nine of their last 10 games, and now look ahead to an 8 p.m. Friday rematch at Memorial Coliseum with the Thunder (25-17-3).

In three games since their leading scoring defenseman, Ryan Culkin, was called up to Tucson of the American Hockey League, the Komets are unbeaten and have outscored the opposition 22-10. Culkin is expected to be re-assigned to the Komets today, giving them six blue-liners again and maybe not so much of a need for offensive overcompensation.

“We’ve had a lot of the same D here over the last few years and you can see how much they’ve changed and how much they’ve grown,” Cheek said. “Look at Cody Sol, he’s a completely different player. He’s playing so offensive and still keeping his defensive prowess. Our D corps is just a lot better, even when we have six of them. And for Schaafsma to step in at his old age (of 34) and play the D back there, it’s pretty awesome to see. He’s a smart player and it’s probably pretty easy for him.”

Gabriel Desjardins scored twice. Sol had a goal on nine shots, giving him three goals and six points in the last three games. Dennis Kravchenko had three assists, including a cross-ice pass to set up 10th forward Justin MacDonald for a second-period backhand goal and a 4-2 lead.

“It’s nice to have a game like that, especially since we could see some guys like Mac get to pinch in and get a beautiful goal like that,” Cheek said. “It’s awesome to see that.”

Sol’s shot from the blue line 31 seconds into the third period was followed by a Desjardins goal from 30 feet out that made it 6-2, as Fort Wayne went on to its season high for goals. Garrett Bartus stopped 34 shots for Fort Wayne. Wichita’s Starrett stopped 36 of 43 before he was replaced by Nick Riopel 11:47 into the third period, and he stopped 3 of 5.

Also netting goals for the Komets were Mason Baptista, Shawn Szydlowski, Marco Roy and Louick Marcotte, who has 10 goals and 22 points in 25 games since he was acquired in a Nov. 17 trade from Wichita for Ralph Cuddemi, who scored twice Wednesday. Cuddemi has 15 goals and 28 points in 32 games with the Thunder. Since the trade, Fort Wayne is 25-9-0 record and Wichita is 15-16-2.

Amazingly, the Komets trailed heading into the second period.

“We were getting too cute and fancy. We were passing up chances to shoot,” Komets coach Gary Graham said. “We told them, ‘This eventually is going to start biting us in the butt.’ ... If we were going to keep playing that type of game where we weren’t going to be shooters, then we might not end up with a win tonight.”

jcohn@jg.net