The Fort Wayne Komets (45-19-6-2) ended their regular season on a high note, defeating their first-round playoff opponent Quad City Mallards (40-28-2-2), the ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Minnesota Wild, twice in two nights, tonight winning 6-1. Komets forward Mason Baptista recorded two goals, tallying four points in two games. Forward Mike Cazzola added another assist to tie Walleye forward Tylor Spink for the league lead in points among rookies. Cazzola now also has four points in two games. Komets forward Mike Embach also tallied an assist in tonight’s game, extending his point streak to four points in two games as well.
The Komets came storming out of the gates once again against Quad City, scoring twice on 13 shots against Mallards goaltender Adam Vay. Embach got the scoring started for Fort Wayne, netting his 18th of the season with helpers from forwards Brett Perlini and Garrett Thompson. Komets forward Kyle Thomas then took a hooking minor, putting the Komets down a man for the first penalty of the game. Easily, the Komets killed it off. Less than six minutes later, Thomas got loose on a breakaway and tucked it past Vay to make it 2-0 Fort Wayne. That was Thomas’s 27th of the season with assists from Cazzola and defenseman Curtis Leonard. Four-on-four hockey was played for a little while with infractions from Mallards defenseman Guillaume Gelinas and Embach. Neither team converted on the special teams opportunity. At the end of the first, the Komets were ahead in shots on goal 13-5, manhandling the Mallards.
The Mallards came out flying in the middle frame, getting great looks on Komets goaltender Pat Nagle. Finally, the Komets got started with a power play after Mallards defenseman Kevin Gibson went crazy and got a two minute roughing minor. The Komets did not convert on that power play opportunity, but Komets all-star forward Shawn Szydlowski found the back of the net as he ripped one over the shoulder of Vay to give the Komets a 3-0 lead. That was Szydlowski’s 25th goal and 66th point this season. The lone assist went to Komets captain Jamie Schaafsma. The Komets also killed off their only penalty of the period, a Perlini delay of game. With 1:02 remaining in the period, Szydlowski and Mallards defenseman Dylan Labbe dropped the gloves and Szydlowski got some haymakers in before Labbe wrestled him to the ice. The Mallards led the shots on goal for the second period 10-9, but the Komets were still ahead for the game total 22-15.
Fort Wayne got the scoring started in the final frame as Baptista tallied his 15th goal and 29th point of the season, with helpers from forward Gabriel Desjardins and defenseman Ryan Lowney. That was Desjardins’s 26th assist and 46th point of the year and Lowney’s fifth assist and sixth point of the season. 22 seconds later, Thompson sniped his 20th goal and 45th point of the year home past Vay to put the Komets up 5-0. The assists went to Leonard and Perlini, both of them with their second assists of the night. Just over halfway through the third period, a scrum broke out in the corner between Komets forward Travis Ewanyk and Mallards forward Sam Warning, with Ewanyk adding a couple of jabs. Ewanyk got two minutes for cross-checking and two minutes for roughing, while Warning received two minutes for roughing. At the 15:32 mark of the third period, Baptista put home a rebound for his second of the game and 16th of the season to put the Komets up 6-0. Komets defenseman Cody Sol was credited with his 17th assist and 24th point of the year. With 3:22 remaining, Mallards defenseman Mike Wilson ripped one from the point to break Nagle’s shutout streak and make it 6-1. That’s how it ended, as the Komets end the regular season beating their first round playoff opponent twice in two nights. The Komets defeated the Mallards not only in goals, but in shots on goal, beating the Mallards 38-25.
Baptista recorded two goals, tallying four points in two games. Cazzola added another assist to tie Spink for the league lead in points among rookies. Cazzola now also has four points in two games. Embach also tallied an assist in tonight’s game, extending his point streak to four points in two games as well. These two teams play each other in the first round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs.
1.Mason Baptista (FW, 2G, 6 SOG, +2) 2.Pat Nagle (FW, 24 SV, 25 SA) 3.Brett Perlini (FW, 2A, 5 SOG, +3)
The next game is the first game of the first round of the 2017 Kelly Cup Playoffs as the Komets take on the Quad City Mallards at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne on Friday, April 14 at 8 p.m.
MVP: Mike Cazzola
Rookie of the Year: Mike Cazzola
Defenseman of the Year: Cody Sol
Best Defensive Forward: Shawn Szydlowski
Most Improved Forward: Gabriel Desjardins
Unsung Hero: Garrett Bartus
Mr. Hustle: Kyle Thomas
True Komet: Jamie Schaafsma
Gallmeier Community Service: Mike Embach