2/20 Inside The Zone – Komets Hockey

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The Komets scored five points for week 19 going 2-1-1 in the four games played and improved to 30-15-6 and 66 points after 51 games.

The week started with a Valentine’s Day match Tuesday night at Kalamazoo.  The Komets suffered their first regulation loss in six games 3-1.  Jason Binkley netted Fort Wayne’s lone goal, his seventh of the campaign.  Netminder Garrett Bartus had a three-game win string snapped making 24 saves on 26 shots.

Friday the Komets posted their fifth shutout of the season 1-0 against Kalamazoo on Fort Wayne ice.  Mike Embach scored the only goal needed for the win while goaltender Pat Nagle snagged his first shutout of the season, 13th of his career, on 21 saves.  The Komets finished the season series with Kalamazoo 5-4-0.

Saturday the Komets clipped the visiting Brampton Beast 4-3 in overtime. The Komets pleased the second largest crowd of the year of 9,515 with their sixth straight home win.  The Beast took a 2-0 lead before unassisted goals by Trevor Cheek and Mike Cazzola evened the scored.  Brampton’s Brandon MacLean scored at 13:07 of the second frame to give the Beast a 3-2 lead before the second intermission.  After 19 minutes of a scoreless third period, the Komets pulled goaltender Nagle for the extra attacker and rallied with Gabriel Desjardins’ 12th goal of the season with 49 seconds remaining in regulation to send the game into extra time. At 2:03 of overtime Brett Perlini solved Brampton goaltender Zachary Fucale for the win.
Sunday the Komets traveled to Cincinnati and finished the week with their first shootout of the season, a 5-4 decision in favor of the Cyclones.  The Komets again rallied with four unanswered goals after trailing 4-0.  Perlini got the Komets on the board at 14:48 of the second before Dan Milan cut the Clones’ lead in half with 27 seconds remaining in the period.  Cazzola tallied his 20th goal of the season at 7:30 of the third period before Perlini lit the lamp for his second of the game at 14:56 to knot the tilt at 4-4.  After a scoreless overtime, Cincinnati’s Shawn O’Donnell was the only shooter of six to score and give the Cyclones the shootout win.  Nagle suffered the shootout loss in the Fort Wayne net allowing one goal on seven shots in 37:13 of relief for Bartus.  Bartus made 11 saves on 14 shots in the first 27:47 of the match.

Streaking Komets— The Komets are unbeaten in regulation three straight games (2-0-1)….the Komets have out-shot their opponents in nine straight games and are 24-8-2 when out-shooting opponents….Brett Perlini has a three-game point-scoring streak (3g, 1a)…..Mike Cassola has a three-game road assist and point streak (3g, 5a)….Goaltender Pat Nagle has not lost a game in regulation this season for an eight-game unbeaten streak (6-0-2).

Speaking of shootouts— Sunday’s shootout at Cincinnati was Fort Wayne’s first shootout of the season since the Komets dropped a 5-4 shootout decision at Alaska last year on March 11, 2016.  The Komets finished last season with a total of three shootouts (1-2).

Komet leaders— Kyle Thomas leads with 25 goals, nine power play goals and 62 points….Thomas and Mike Cazzola are tied with 37 assists….Cazzola leads ECHL rookies with 37 assists and ranks second with 57 points…..Mike Embach leads with five game-winning goals…..Curtis Leonard leads with +26…..Cody Sol leads with 133 penalty minutes.

Milestones— Curtis Leonard skated his 100th pro game Friday against Kalamazoo….Garrett Thompson appeared in his 200th career game (regular season and playoffs) Friday vs Kalamazoo.

The week ahead
Quad City Mallards (29-20-2, 60 points) at Komets Wednesday, 7:30pm–  The Mallards make their sixth and final trip to Fort Wayne Wednesday.  The Komets are 3-2-0 after five Quad City visits and lead the season series 6-2-0 with four meetings remaining.  The Komets upended the Mallards 5-1 the last time Quad City was in town on Jan. 7.  The Central division rival Mallards trail the second place Komets by six points with 21 games remaining in the fight for playoff position.  Quad City is coming off two losses over the weekend after posting a season-best eight-game winning streak.

Komets at Indy Fuel (15-33-4, 34 points) Friday, 7:35pm– The Komets visit intrastate rival Indy Friday for the second of five trips this season to the Indiana Farmers Coliseum (6,488).  The Komets are undefeated by the Fuel this season after five meetings (5-0-0).  The Fuel scored a 6-2 victory the last time out at Tulsa Saturday for their first win in 10 games.  Indy is idle this week until they host the Komets Friday.

Wichita Thunder (15-30-4, 34 points) at Komets Saturday, 7:30pm– The Thunder make their only visit of the season Saturday.  It’s the second of only two meetings this season after the Komets dropped a 5-3 affair at Wichita Nov. 13.  The Thunder are tied with Indy in the cellar of the Central division with 34 points after 49 games.  The Komets are 2-3-1 all-time against Wichita going back to 2011-12 when the two teams first met in the CHL.  The last time Wichita visited Fort Wayne for a regular season game was March 4, 2012 when they defeated the Komets 3-2 in a shootout.  The last time the Thunder visited was during the CHL Presidents’ Cup finals when the Komets captured the CHL championship four games to one with a 6-3 win on Monday, May 7, 2012.  Wichita enters week 20 riding a 13-game winless streak (0-11-2) and seven-game losing streak.  The Thunder visit Cincinnati Wednesday and Friday before arriving in Fort Wayne Saturday.

Wheeling Nailers (27-18-5, 59 points at Komets Sunday, 5pm– The Komets will face the Nailers Sunday for the first of three straight Wheeling visits.  The Komets are 1-1-0 against Wheeling after two meetings and will complete the season series this week.  The last time the Nailers were in town was a 4-3 Fort Wayne win Dec. 17. Wheeling holds fifth place in the North division of the Eastern Conference and is fighting for a playoff position as they trail fourth-place Brampton by three points after 50 games.  This week the Nailers get on the ice early for a 2pm Monday matinee at Brampton.  Wheeling then travels to Toledo for a pair of games Friday and Saturday prior to their visit to Fort Wayne Sunday.