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The Journal Gazette

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette The Komets' Shawn Szydlowski, left, celebrates with teammate Mason Baptista after Baptista scored the first goal of the game in the first period against Wichita at the Coliseum on Wednesday.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette The Komets' Shawn Szydlowski, left, shoots the puck past the Thunder's Jeremy Beaudry during the second period Wednesday at the Coliseum.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette The Komets' Louick Marcotte, left, shoots the puck past the Thunder's Travis Brown during the second period Wednesday at the Coliseum.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette The Komets' Mason Baptista, left, shoots the puck past Thunder goalie Shane Starrett for the first goal of the game in the first period Wednesday at the Coliseum.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette The Komets' Trevor Cheek takes control of the puck during the second period Wednesday against Wichita at the Coliseum. 

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette The Komets' Louick Marcotte, left, defends against the Thunder's Jeremy Beaudry during the first period Wednesday at the Coliseum.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette The Komets' Cody Sol grabs the puck against Wichita at the Coliseum on Wednesday.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018 10:21 pm

Komets wallop Wichita 9-3

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

With the way the Komets finished this game, the Wichita Thunder may not want to return to Memorial Coliseum for Round 2.

The Komets netted eight straight goals tonight and cemented a 9-3 victory over the Thunder, in front of 5,929 fans at the Coliseum.

Gabriel Desjardins scored twice for the Komets (30-13-2), who have won nine of their last 10 games, and goaltender Garrett Bartus stopped 34 shots.

The teams meet again 8 p.m. Friday.

It was a season high for goals for Fort Wayne, which got at least a point from every skater but one – Jamie Schaafsma – as the Komets racked up 48 shots on two goalies.

Defenseman Cody Sol had one goal, two points and nine shots. Over the last three games, he's got three goals and six points, as Fort Wayne has played with only five defensemen in the wake of Ryan Culkin being called up to Tucson of the American Hockey League.

The ECHL's leading scorer, Shawn Szydlowski, set up the game's first goal by sending a short pass to Mason Baptista, who made a nifty play by lifting the stick of Wichita's Travis Brown and guiding the puck into the bottom of the net – on the game's first shot – for a 1-0 Fort Wayne lead.

The Komets had nine of the game's first 10 shots, but Wichita then went on a tear by netting two goals on six shots in the span of 2:54. Chad Butcher found the net from 15 feet out at 8:04 and Cuddemi rifled the puck over a sliding Ryan Lowney to make it 2-1 at 10:58.

Sol kept up his torrid pace by setting up the game-tying goal 3:41 into the second period, when his blast from the point ricocheted off the torso of teammate Marco Roy, goaltender Shane Starrett and hopped just inside the left goalpost.

Schaafsma, the Komets' captain, who dropped back from his normal center position to defense for a third straight game, drew a four-minute power play when he was high-sticked in the face by Wichita's Dyson Stevenson at 3:56. On the ensuing man-advantage, Trevor Cheek made it 3-2 by snapping a shot in from the right circle, as Fort Wayne had a 28-8 advantage in shots.

A Dennis Kravchenko pass across the crease set up Justin MacDonald for a backhand shot, a goal and a 4-2 lead at 13:18, and Sol sent the puck underneath Starrett's legs from 50 feet out for a three-goal lead 31 seconds into the third period.

Desjardins made it 6-2 with a shot from slot, Louick Marcotte scored off a redirection and Desjardins and Szydlowski followed with goals for a 9-2 lead.

Earlier in the season, the Komets traded Ralph Cuddemi to Wichita for Marcotte. Wichita (25-17-3) has lost four of its last five games.

Notes: Brian McKenna announced he will step down as ECHL commissioner this summer, after 16 seasons in that post. A national search for a replacement is underway. … A third-period Wichita goal by Jeremy Beaudry was waved off when it was determined he played it in with a high stick.

jcohn@jg.net