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The Journal Gazette

  • Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette Komet Gabriel Desjardins brakes away from the pack, second period at Memorial Coliseum, Friday.

  • Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette Jordan Hill and Alden Hirschfeld of Toledo celebrate Evan Rankin's power play goal, first period at Memorial Coliseum, Friday.

  • Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette Komet Travis Ewanyk gets off a shot over Toledo Matthew Caito but Walleye goalie Jeff Lerg makes the save in the first period at Memorial Coliseum on Friday.

  • Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette Ryan Lowney of the Komets battles Tylor Spink of Toledo for the puck, first period at Memorial Coliseum, Friday.

  • Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette Beau Schmitz of Toledo grabs Gabriel Desjardins of the Komets behind the Walleye net in the second period at Memorial Coliseum on Friday.

  • Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette Evan Rankin, left, Jordan Hill and Alden Hirschfeld of Toledo celebrate Rankin's power play goal, first period at Memorial Coliseum, Friday.

  • Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette Komet Jamie Schaafsma celebrates his goal against Toledo in the first period at Memorial Coliseum on Friday.

  • Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette Toledo goalie Jeff Lerg makes a block with his stick of a shot from Komet Shawn Szydlowski, first period at Memorial Coliseum, Friday.

  • Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette Komet Travis Ewanyk and Tyson Spink of Toledo battle near the boards, second period at Memorial Coliseum, Friday.

  • Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette Toledo goalie Jeff Lerg makes a glove save of a shot from Komet Trevor Cheek, first period at Memorial Coliseum, Friday.

Friday, May 05, 2017 10:50 pm

Komets not done yet

Force a Game 5 at Toledo

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

Right when it looked as if the Komets had run out of steam, they conjured up a Shawn Szydlowski power-play goal to cement a 4-1 victory over the Toledo Walleye tonight, in front of 7,162 fans at Memorial Coliseum.

The victory cut Toledo’s lead to 3-1 in the best-of-7 Central Division finals that continue Saturday at the Huntington Center in Ohio.

It was Fort Wayne’s second victory 10 games against the Walleye, including the regular season, and Szydlowski’s goal for a 3-1 lead at 10:02 of the third period was his first point of the series.

Captain Jamie Schaafsma added an insurance goal at 16:43, his second goal of the night.

Also scoring for the Komets, who were out-shot 25-12 in the final two periods, 35-32 overall, was Gabriel Desjardins.

(Video highlights above.)

The Komets are trying to become the second team in ECHL history to win after trailing a series 3-0, a feat accomplished by Cincinnati against Reading in 2010. Only two other teams that were down 3-0 have forced a Game 7: Cincinnati against Atlantic City in 2003 and Toledo against South Carolina in 2015.

After he was a surprise scratch in Game 3, Pat Nagle was back in net for the Komets. Garrett Bartus had stopped 32 shots in the 3-2 loss at the Coliseum on Wednesday, his only appearance of the playoffs.

After coach Gary Graham publicly decried the Komets’ inability to fire the puck often enough, they out-shot Toledo 20-10 in the first period and took a 2-1 lead, which would have been bigger if Toledo’s Jeff Lerg hadn’t stopped Szydlowski, Trevor Cheek and Kyle Thomas on shots from within 15 feet.

Fort Wayne opened the scoring at 3:13, when Schaafsma redirected a Cody Sol shot from the blue line. Desjardins made it 2-0 – Fort Wayne’s first two-goal lead of the series – by fighting off a Beau Schmitz hold and then snapping a shot from 20 feet out past Lerg.

Toledo netted a power-play goal at 18:25, when Evan Rankin scoring off a rebound, after Fort Wayne was penalized for having too many men on the ice.

Any momentum the Komets built through 14 quality scoring chances in the first period dissipated in the second, when they didn’t tally a shot on goal during the first 10:11, went to the penalty box three times and were out-shot 11-4. Nagle maintained Fort Wayne’s one-goal lead by diving to stop an Alden Hirschfeld shot from point-blank range.

Sliding to his right, Nagle stopped a Tylor Spink shot from 6 feet at 2:01 of the third period, as Toledo had the first eight shots of the period.

With Toledo’s Matt Caito in the box for elbowing, Szydlowski got his first point of the series – netting a goal on a shot from the blue line at 10:02 for a 3-1 lead.

Notes: The Komets played without Will Weber, who suffered a lower-body injury in Game 3, Brett Perlini, Kyle Follmer and Taylor Crunk. … Former Komets defenseman Simon Denis was back in the lineup for Toledo after missing eight games with a concussion, suffered on a series of cross-checks by Kalamazoo’s Ben Wilson in the first round. The Walleye also had back Tylor Spink, who missed Game 3 with the flu. … Toledo played without Landon Oslanski, Alex Globke, Carter Sandlak, Charlie O’Connor and Jake Paterson. … The referees were Tyler Puddifant and Jason Faist.

jcohn@jg.net