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The Journal Gazette

  • Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette The Komets’ Shawm Szyd­low­ski, left, punches Cincinnati’s Shawn O’Donnell during one of four first-period fights on Thursday at Memorial Coliseum.

  • Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette Komets defenseman Will Weber, top, dumps Cincinnati forward Nick Huard deep in the Komets’ zone during the third period on Thursday night.

Thursday, December 29, 2016 10:07 pm

Komets get physical in 3rd period for win

Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette

A smartphone might not have been able to handle all the messages sent out Thursday night at Memorial Coliseum.

Komets management sent a message to its players by making two pregame trades. The players sent a message to the rest of the ECHL by conjuring up yet another decisive third period in a 4-3 victory over the Cincinnati Cyclones. And to those who think they can push the Komets around, five fights from a lineup that was missing most of its heavyweights might serve as a deterrent.

"The big thing tonight was us sticking together there with those scrums and those fights. It was good to see everyone sticking up for each other. That’s what you want to see from a winning team, that camaraderie, and that we stay together no matter what happens," said captain Jamie Schaafsma, who had the winning power-play goal with a shot from the right circle 16:36 into the third period, after Cincinnati’s Jacob Graves was penalized for cross-checking Dan Milan.

The Komets (18-8-3) also got goals from Gabriel Desjardins, Shawn Szydlowski and Kyle Thomas in front of 6,712 fans, but they squandered a 3-1 lead by giving up goals to Shane Walsh and Shawn O’Donnell.

Despite inconsistent play and missing seven players – Garrett Thompson (lower body), Cody Sol (knee), Gabriel Beaupre (concussion), Taylor Crunk (ankle), Pat Nagle (ankle), Bobby Shea (called to Rochester of the American Hockey League) and Trevor Cheek (Tucson of AHL) – the Komets have won 5 of 6 heading into Saturday’s game at the Coliseum against the Toledo Walleye.

By then, they will have newly acquired goaltender P.J. Musico and defenseman Kyle Flemington, who were acquired from Greenville and Wheeling, respectively, for an undisclosed amount of cash. The Komets also have goalies Garrett Bartus, who stopped 29 shots, and Eric Hartzell.

"Musico is a kid we’ve been looking at the last few weeks. We’re still not totally happy with the goaltending. We’re going to give this kid a chance to see what he can do," general manager David Franke said. "For the short term, we’ll go with three goalies, (not including) Pat Nagle, who is still probably a couple weeks away."

Cincinnati’s Dominic Zombo bowled over Kyle Follmer to incite a 10-player melee in the first period.

"We kind of felt that was dirty and (Follmer) obviously didn’t like it either," said the 5-foot-10 Mike Embach, who fought 6-4 Jaynen Rissling.

Amid the 27 penalties for 92 minutes, David Friedmann had his first pro fight and the Komets scored on 2 of 7 power plays while Cincinnati (12-12-4) was 1 for 3.

"I did not like the way that team over there tried to handle the physical play," Komets coach Gary Graham said. "They had some big, tough guys grabbing the smallest guys on the ice and I thought that was unbelievable. I don’t know what the game plan was but they were flying in with late hits everywhere and were just really trying to bring something, I don’t know what. I think there are a lot of mental notes being taken in (our) locker room for when we get healthy, that’s for sure."

jcohn@jg.net