Komets riding high heading into new year

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The Komets collected six points for week 12 of 2017-18 improving to 20-8-2 and 42 points after 30 games and moved to within one point of first-place Toledo in the Central Division after starting the month in fourth-place and 10 points behind the Walleye.

The Komets began the week with a 5-3 setback at Cincinnati on Wednesday but rallied to take a 5-2 win from Wheeling Friday and a 5-0 victory out of Quad City Saturday before saying goodbye to 2017 with a 3-0 New Year’s Eve shutout over Toledo in Fort Wayne Sunday in front of a sell-out crowd of 10,479.

For the week— Shawn Szydlowski led with four goals, two assists and six points.  Mason Baptista scored a pair of goals and added three assists for a five-point week.  Gabriel Desjardins dished four assists. Dennis Kravchenko (1g, 2a), Cody Sol (3a), and Louick Marcotte (2g, 1a) each had three points.  Artur Tyanulin, Ryan Culkin and Bobby Shea each scored a goal and added an assist for two points for the week.

Oh what a month— The Komets finished 2017 with back-to-back shutouts and a three-game win string to claim an overall 12-2-0 overall mark for December.  It was Fort Wayne’s best December performance since posting a 13-2-2 record in December of 2004 as a member of the old UHL.  It was the first time the Komets reached 12 wins in a single month since going 13-1-1 in March of 2008 in the IHL.  Shawn Szydlowski led the Komets with 11 goals and 22 points appearing in 12 of the 14 games while tying Garrett Thompson and Mason Baptista with a team-high 11 assists.  Szydlowski and Baptista led the league in plus/minus with +17.  Goaltender Michael Houser was 9-1-0 for the month with a 1.92 goals-against average and .936 save percentage in 11 appearances.  Netminder Garrett Bartus went 3-1-0 and posted a 2.70 goals-against average and .915 save percentage.

Komet leaders— Shawn Szydlowski has moved to the top of the ECHL with 39 points and leads the Komets with 18 goals and 21 assists….Cody Sol ranks second in the league and first among ECHL defensemen with +21…..Fort Wayne defensemen are led by Jason Binkley with 17 assists and 20 points while Ryan Culkin leads with seven goals.

Hot streaks— The Komets have won seven home games in a row for a league high seven-game home win string.  The Komets start week 13 riding a shutout streak of 126:31.  Garrett Bartus posted his first shutout of the season Saturday at Quad City on 34 saves for his second straight win….Michael Houser snagged his second shutout of the campaign for his 100th career win Sunday against Toledo making 37 saves.  It also marked his second straight win and sixth straight home win…..Shawn Szydlowski has a seven-game point-streak (9g, 7a), a three-game goal streak (4g), a 10-game road point streak (9g, 11a) and four-game home point streak (4g, 3a)……Mason Baptista has points in three straight games (2g, 3a) and a four-game home point streak (2g, 4a)….Cody Sol has a three-game assist streak (3a) and three-game home assist streak (3a)…..Jamie Schaafsma has at least a goal in each of his last four home games (5g).

Special K’s— The Komets were 14/17 on the penalty kill for the week after finishing with 11 straight successful penalty kills and going 10/10 three straight games.

Holding the lead— The Komets are 8-0-0 when leading after the first period and 13-0-0 when taking the lead into the third stanza.

Opening 2018

Wednesday, Jan. 3, Kalamazoo Wings at Komets, 7:30pm—  The Komets will open 2018 Wednesday when Kalamazoo (14-11-3, 31 points) visits for a 7:30pm faceoff.  It’s the first of three trips to Fort Wayne by the Wings this season and only the second meeting out of six.  The Komets dropped a 6-3 affair at Kalamazoo in the first meeting Nov. 5.  The Central division rival Wings are 3-3-1 in their last seven games and trail first-place Toledo by 12 points.

Friday, Jan. 5, Komets at Indy Fuel, 7:35pm—   Friday the Komets make their third of six visits to Indy (12-15-3, 27 points). After three  of nine total meetings this season the Komets are a perfect 3-0-0.  The Fuel also finished 2017 with a three-game win streak and are idle until they welcome the Komets Friday.

Saturday, Jan. 6, Indy Fuel at Komets, 7:30pm— The Komets and arch rival Fuel complete a home-and-home weekend series.  The last time Indy was in Fort Wayne was Dec. 15, a 5-2 Komet win in the first meeting of the season on Sweetwater Ice at the Memorial Coliseum.  Saturday’s tilt will the second of three visits by the Fuel.

Sunday, Jan. 7, Komets at Wheeling Nailers, 3:05pm—  The Komets will make their second of four trips to Wheeling (16-14-2, 34 points) Sunday where they are 1-0-0 after one visit.  In the last meeting at Wheeling the Komets clipped the Nailers 3-2 Dec. 5.  The Komets topped the Nailers last Friday 5-2 to claim an overall series lead of 2-0-0.  Wheeling has lost three straight games and trail first-place Manchester in the North Division by 10 points.  The Nailers will skate at Norfolk Wednesday, host Manchester Friday and travel to Cincinnati Saturday before returning home Sunday to host Fort Wayne.