3/20 Inside The Zone – Komets Hockey

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The Komets improved to 37-17-7, 81 points and rank fifth in the ECHL with a .664 winning percentage after collecting two points and going 1-1-0 for week 23 of 2016-17.

Friday the Komets posted their seventh shutout of the year 3-0 for their ECHL-best 24th home win over the Tulsa Oilers, matching last season’s number of shutouts.  Garrett Thompson scored the first goal of the game and the eventual game winner.  Jamie Schaafsma and Mike Embach also hit the net for Fort Wayne.  Goaltender Pat Nagle earned his second shutout of the season stopping 32 shots for his 14th career shutout.

Sunday the Komets were the victims of a shutout for the first time this season, falling 1-0 to the Beast at Brampton.  Nagle suffered his second loss of the year making 23 saves on 24 shots and ends his shutout streak at 140:21.  Brampton netminder Zachary Fucale registered his fourth whitewash of the year on 30 shots.  Fort Wayne finishes the season series against Brampton at 1-3-1.

The Komets enter week 24 holding second place in the Central division of the ECHL’s Western Conference, trailing first-place Toledo by 14 points with 11 games remaining.  The Komets enjoy a seven-point cushion over third-place Quad City while Kalamazoo trails Fort Wayne by 11 points in the race for playoff position.  The Komets have clinched a berth in the post season and If the playoffs started this week would face Quad City in a best-of seven first-round series.

Komet leaders— Mike Cazzola leads with 40 assists and 63 points, Kyle Thomas leads with 25 goals, Cazzola and Thomas lead with nine power play goals, Jamie Schaafsma leads with 16 power play assists, Mike Embach and Trevor Cheek lead with five game winners, Cody Sol leads with 151 penalty minutes and +30.

Komet streaks— Jamie Schaafsma maintains his eight-game point-scoring streak (6g, 7a) and league-high four-game goal streak (4g) since he was not in Sunday’s lineup at Brampton.  Schaafsma also is riding a five-game home point streak (4g, 4a)…..Mike Embach has a three-game home point-scoring streak (2g, 1a).  The Komets have an ECHL-high 12 game home point streak (11-0-1) and a five-game home winning streak. Kyle Thomas, currently in the AHL with Cleveland, had a five-game point-streak (4g, 9a) and league-high five-game assist streak (9a) when called up.

By the numbers— After Friday’s 3-0 win over Tulsa, the Komets improved to 21-0-6 when leading after the first period, 24-1-0 when taking the lead into the third period and 25-7-2 when scoring first.  The Komets have now out-scored opponents in the first period 65-51 and 86-48 in the third period.  The Komets were a perfect 10/10 on the penalty kill for the week to improve their kill to 83.2% (238/286).  Friday the Komets reached 81 points in 60 games improving over last year’s mark of 75 points after 60.

The week ahead– The Komets will skate four games in five nights this week starting a stretch of 11 games in 18 days to finish the season.

Norfolk Admirals (24-34-4, 52 points) at Komets Wednesday, 7:30pm— The Komets will host Norfolk for the only meeting of the season Wednesday at 7:30pm and the first meeting ever.  The Admirals are in last place in the South division but are bringing a three-game win streak with them to Sweetwater Ice at the Coliseum.  Norfolk had lost four straight games before winning the last three and are 5-5-0 in their last 10.

Komets at Quad City Mallards (35-24-4, 74 points) Friday, 8:05pm ET— The Komets travel to Quad City Friday for an 8:05pm ET start at the iWireless Center (5,100).  The Komets and Mallards have three meetings remaining with playoff position on the line.  Quad City has nine games remaining, two less than Fort Wayne, and enters the week seven points behind the second-place Komets.  Quad City skates at Wichita Wednesday before hosting the Komets Friday.  The Komets lead the season series 6-2-1 after a 3-2 shootout loss to the Mallards in the last meeting Feb. 22 in Fort Wayne.  The series will continue when the Komets and Mallards finish the season with a home-and-home series Friday and Saturday April 7th and 8th.

Cincinnati Cyclones (35-26-4, 74 points) at Komets Saturday, 7:30pm— The Komets welcome the Cyclones Saturday for the final time this season.  Fort Wayne is 3-1-2 against Cincinnati after six meetings and unbeaten this year (2-0-0) after two meetings in Fort Wayne.  Cincy is in third place in the South division and in a four-way battle for second, third and fourth place finishes in the division.  The Cyclones enter the week on a three-game win streak after sweeping the Aces in Alaska last week and are 7-1-0 in their last eight games.  Cincinnati is idle this week until they travel to Fort Wayne Saturday.

Florida Everblades (41-16-5, 87 points) at Komets Sunday, 5pm— The Komets face the Everblades in the only meeting of the season Sunday when Florida visits for a 5pm faceoff.  The Komets are 4-6-1 against Florida all-time.  The last meeting was during 2014-15 when the Komets dropped a 3-2 decision at Florida Feb. 11, 2015.  The Everblades lead the South division and rank third overall in the ECHL with 87 points after 62 games.  Florida is coming off a split of a pair of home games against Orlando and is 3-1-0 in their last four outings and 3-4-0 in their last seven.  The Everblades will start a four-game road tour this week with games at Kalamazoo Wednesday, at Toledo Friday and Saturday and a visit to Fort Wayne Sunday.