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  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette J.C. Campagna has been the Komets' hottest scorer of late with goals in six straight games.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette The Komets' Marco Roy slides on the ice during the game against the Walleye at the Coliseum on Friday.

Friday, December 07, 2018 1:00 am

Odd-man rushes hurting Komets

Poor positioning highlighted in recent loss to Cincinnati

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

Komets at Wheeling

When: 7 p.m. today

Where: WesBanco Arena, Wheeling, W.Va.

Radio: 1190 AM, 107.5 FM

vs. Indy

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Memorial Coliseum

Radio: 1190 AM, 107.5 FM

vs. Tulsa

When: 5 p.m. Sunday

Where: Memorial Coliseum

Radio: 1380 AM, 100.9 FM

It's not so much the number of the shots the Komets have been giving up – 30.2 per game (11th fewest among the ECHL's 27 teams) – but it's the quality of the scoring chances.

If one looks at the Komets' last game, a 5-2 loss to the Cincinnati Cyclones on Saturday night that snapped a season-best five-game winning streak, odd-man rushes hurt Fort Wayne at U.S. Bank Arena.

“For us, it's about buttoning up the details in terms of our backcheck and our forecheck,” Komets coach Gary Graham said. “It continues to be (a problem). Saturday night's game against Cincinnati, you saw they scored X amount of goals, but we only gave up 26 shots. Why is that? We gave up some high-percentage stuff off the rush to a team that's extremely fast.

“And we'll see that same type of speed against Wheeling (tonight).”

The Komets (10-9-0) play the Wheeling Nailers (7-10-1) at 7 p.m. in Wheeling, West Virginia, in the first meeting of the season between the teams. Wheeling moved into the Central Division this season.

For the season, Fort Wayne's offense ranks 18th with 2.9 goals per game and the defense ranks 12th with 3 goals against per game.

But the Komets have reshaped their roster throughout the season; over the last six games the offense has averaged 3 goals and the defense allowed 2.7 per game.

With Cody Sol suffering a knee injury last week and Chris Rygus remaining out with an injury, the Komets re-signed defenseman Craig Cescon on Wednesday. He hasn't played for the Komets since 2010-11 in the now-defunct Central Hockey League and had been skating this season in Romania.

Cescon, 32, 6-foot-2, 209 pounds, should add a physical dimension to the blue line, and maybe some veteran savvy for a team that has been giving up many odd-man rushes.

“We keep taking some bad angles in the open ice that's causing some odd-man rush situations,” Graham said.

“And we're not staying above guys and matching speed in the open ice. It seems to be allowing teams to be opportunistic because of that and we need to keep working on that.”

Offensively, J.C. Campagna is riding a six-game goal-scoring streak for the Komets, the longest current run in the league and tied for the longest in the ECHL this season.

With eight goals and 26 points, Justin Hodgman is seven points back of Utah's Caleb Herbert for the ECHL's scoring lead.

With Shawn Szydlowski, the ECHL' reigning MVP and leading scorer, having missed practice this week with an illness, Campagna and Hodgman will have to keep their scoring pace up for the Komets as they play three games in as many nights.

Notes: Marco Roy, who had five goals and 12 points in 13 games for the Komets this season, was called up to Chicago of the American Hockey League on Thursday. ... When the Komets play host to the Indy Fuel at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, it will be Star Wars Night. The team will wear special jerseys to be auctioned off to benefit Camp Whatcha Wanna Do. The first 1,000 kids will also get glow-in-the-dark bracelets. ... Sunday's 5 p.m. game with the Tulsa Oilers will be the only meeting of the season between the teams. ... The ECHL All-Star Classic, at 7 p.m. Jan. 21 in Toledo, will air live on NHL Network. It will be a four-team 3-on-3 tournament with the host Walleye making up two of the teams. There will also be a skills competition.

jcohn@jg.net