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The Journal Gazette

  • Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette Komets forward Alex Belzile, center, is expected to return to the Fort Wayne lineup tonight after missing 12 straight games with an injury.

Thursday, December 10, 2015 10:03 pm

Rested Komets come out of break with more confidence

Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette

The Komets have played only once since Nov. 28 and that has afforded them time to get rested and healthier after a grueling stretch of games, injuries and call-ups. 

And it’s helped their confidence.

"The tough thing about going through what we went through was not only having so many different guys out of the lineup and different guys playing, but there were different line combinations and guys playing out of position. The chemistry was tough to build," Komets coach Gary Graham said. "It’s been great to get some continuity going in practice recently."

The Komets won 7-5 at Evansville on Dec. 4, giving them three victories in their last four games, on the heels of losing 7 of 10 between Oct. 30 and Nov. 22.

But the lineup is taking shape again. 

"It’s nice having all these guys back," forward Brett Perlini said. "Obviously, it give us some more depth and helps because they’re competing for jobs and positions. It’s a healthy atmosphere for the team."

Forward Shawn Szydlowski, who was the Komets’ MVP last season, returned last week after missing nine games with an injury. He has three goals and 11 points in nine games. Forward Alex Belzile, who got off to a scorching start with three goals and six points in six games, will be back tonight after missing 12 consecutive games with an injury.

Reid Halabi, who has been limited to five games, could be back any day. Forward Mike Embach, who leads the Komets with seven goals and 16 points in 18 games, isn’t expected to miss time despite his mother and father having kidney surgeries this week.

And goaltender Pat Nagle, who was called up to Grand Rapids of the AHL on Wednesday, was returned Thursday after backing up one game.

"It’s been good with Belzile and Szydlowski being back on the ice and getting (Garrett Meurs) back from San Antonio and getting him back into the systems," said Graham, whose Komets begin a home-and-home series with the Indy Fuel tonight at Memorial Coliseum to start a three-game weekend.

The Komets (10-8-0) also are starting to get scoring from other sources; captain Jamie Schaafsma had his first two goals of the season last week and Nikita Kashirsky scored twice, too.

"The group is starting to get some confidence back in itself, and we’ve been scoring some goals," Graham said. "We like what we’re seeing."

The Komets will have to replace some production from the back end, though, after defenseman Cody Corbett was called up Thursday to San Antonio.

He had five goals and 11 points in 17 games with the Komets. But defensemen Drew Daniels and Jordon Southorn have 25 points in 28 combined games this season.

Against the Fuel (9-10-2), the Komets are 2-1-0 this season, led by Szydlowski’s six assists, and 10-2-2 alltime. Against teams from Indianapolis all time, the Komets are 171-82-25 in the regular season.

Notes: Today is the last day to help Embach raise money to fight kidney disease by pledging money to the American Kidney Fund for every Komets home victory in December. Go to www.causemates.com/mikeembach, where over $861 has been pledged. …

Tonight will be Star Wars Night, and the Komets’ special jerseys will be auctioned off to benefit Camp Watcha Wanna Do.

jcohn@jg.net