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The Journal Gazette

  • Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Komets goalie Lucas Hafner makes a save off a shot from Kalamazoo's Kyle Blaney during the second period Saturday at Memorial Coliseum.

  • Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette J.C. Campagna of the Komets looks to take posession of the puck from Kalamazoo’s Aleksander Mikulovich during the first period at the Memorial Coliseum Saturday night.

  • Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Lukas Hafner of the Komets blocks a shot made by Kalamazoo during the first period Saturday night at the Memorial Coliseum.

  • Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Chase Stewart body checks Aleksander Mikulovich of Kalamazoo during the first period at the Memorial Coliseum Saturday night.

  • Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Phelix Martineau of the Komets quickly turns around to intercept a pass during the first period at the Memorial Coliseum Saturday night.

  • Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Garret Ross of the Komets passes around Kalamazoo’s Luke Sandler during the first period at the Memorial Coliseum Saturday night.

  • Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Komets celebrate after Justin Kea successfully scores against Kalamazoo during the second period at the Memorial Coliseum Saturday night.

Sunday, November 04, 2018 1:00 am

Komets 6 Kalamazoo 3

Hodgman spurs K's with 5-point game

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

Justin Hodgman wanted to have a big night. And he certainly did Saturday with his first five-point game since he played in juniors for the Ontario Hockey League's Erie Otters – back in 2007-08.

“To have five points means a lot, but the two points for the team is more important,” Hodgman said, after the Komets cemented their first back-to-back victories of the season by defeating the Kalamazoo Wings 6-3 in front of 8,087 fans at Memorial Coliseum.

On a weekend in which fans buzzed over the possibility that Shawn Szydlowski, last season's ECHL MVP and leading scorer, could return to the Komets after leaving his team in Norway, the current roster showed it might have some promise on Military Appreciation Weekend.

Playing under the Blacksnakes moniker to honor the 122nd Fighter Wing of the Air National Guard, the Komets also defeated the Indy Fuel 5-2 on Friday.

Hodgman dished out four assists Saturday, including an end-to-end rush through three defenders that culminated with a drop pass to Justin Kea for a goal, and a cross-ice pass to set up Phelix Martineau for a goal. And Hodgman scored himself by getting the puck alone in front of goaltender Jake Hildebrand, putting a fake on, then sending a shot inside the right goalpost.

“I had a lot of important family members here – my aunt and uncle, who have been an important part of my life; cousins and second cousins; my kids were here – and tons of friends and neighbors,” said Hodgman, who has a point in seven of the Komets' eight games this season, giving him two goals and 14 points overall.

“This game meant so much to me. For us to pull off such a big win and for me to be such a big part of it, it feels really, really good.”

Fort Wayne's Marco Roy extended his point-scoring streak to five games. Jason Binkley, who had been a healthy scratch the week before, scored on a 40-foot shot and on a late empty-netter. And Anthony Petruzzelli also found the back of the net for the Komets (3-5-0), which completed their season-opening streak of eight straight games within the division.

“This had been a long week. It was a week of reflection for our team. We had a lot of individual player meetings and we all had to check ourselves at the door,” coach Gary Graham said. “The individual improvement we saw from a lot of guys was good.”

The Komets next play five consecutive road games beginning Wednesday at Rapid City, South Dakota, and won't play at the Coliseum until Nov. 22, Thanksgiving night, against the Brampton Beast.

Fort Wayne goaltender Lukas Hafner stopped 26 shots, giving up goals to Chad McDonald, Wade Murphy and Justin Taylor. Kalamazoo (3-4-1) got 22 saves from Hildebrand.

“We went through a little bit of a rough part, but it's still early in the year and you're getting the team jelling,” Hafner said. “When you get two big wins at home like that, you can't be too satisfied, but it gives us a little bit of momentum heading into a good Rapid City team.”

The Komets remain in fifth place in the Central Division, nine points back of first-place Toledo (7-1-1).

“The main focus was to play as a team, to make sure we go out there and play the full 60 minutes as a unit of five, and I think we did a pretty good job of that this weekend of doing that,” Martineau said.

Notes: Cody Sol's Blacksnakes jersey sold for the most, $3,000, to benefit Honor Flight Northeast Indiana. Captain Jamie Schaafsma's sold for $1,253. ... Sol received no suspension from the ECHL for a Friday boarding penalty.

jcohn@jg.net