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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, January 12, 2019 10:30 pm

K's get revenge on Cannata

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

Goaltender Joe Cannata gave the Komets fits during the playoffs.

Now he’s with another team. Now it’s another season. Now it’s a different story.

The Komets unleashed five goals on their first 17 shots and defeated Cannata and the Mountain Division-leading Utah Grizzlies 6-4 tonight in front of 7,748 fans at Memorial Coliseum.

It was Fort Wayne’s fifth straight victory, equaling their longest winning streak of the season, and it snapped a season-best five-game winning streak for the Grizzlies.

The Komets can extend it 5 p.m. Sunday at the Coliseum against the Kalamazoo Wings.

Marco Roy had a goal and three points for the Komets (21-14-1). Teammate Jake Kamrass had a goal, giving him a least one point in 13 of the last 15 games, totaling six goals and 17 points.

(Video highlights are above.)

Before the game, the ECHL suspended Komets forward Taylor Crunk four games for his actions during Friday’s 3-2 overtime victory over the Indy Fuel, and for being a repeat offender. Crunk punched Indy’s Radovan Bondra while he was in a pile on the ice. Bondra didn’t get any discipline from the league for his actions in the game, including a major penalty for boarding Cody Sol and a minor for boarding Kevin Gibson.

But Fort Wayne’s all-star, Justin Hodgman, was fined an undisclosed amount for getting a fighting major and aggressor misconduct for unleashing a flurry of punches on Fuel captain Zach Miskovic. Hodgman injured his hand in the fracas – initial X-rays were negative – and he was unable to play tonight against the Grizzlies (22-9-4).

The Grizzlies are now the ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche and therefore have players from the Colorado Eagles, the team that ousted Fort Wayne from the Western Conference finals last season and went on to win the Kelly Cup before moving up to the American Hockey League. The former Eagles with the Grizzlies include: Cannata, forward Teigan Zahn and forward Travis Barron.

Fort Wayne’s goalie, Lukas Hafner, was Cannata’s backup for that Cup run. And Fort Wayne’s Brady Shaw was a forward on that Eagles team. Shaw helped get the scoring going just 22 seconds into the game by sending the puck on net from the corner, setting up Roy to poke it past Cannata.

With the Komets enjoying a 5-on-3 power play – Gage Ausmus was serving a double-minor for high-sticking Kamrass and Barron had a slashing penalty – Fort Wayne took a 2-0 lead when J.C. Campagna sent a 40-foot shot into the top of the net.

The Komets weren’t done unleashing some aggression on Cannata, who had won the controversial overtime Game 7 in the playoffs against them last season; Kamrass scored by redirecting a Ryan Lowney shot and Shaw finished off a give-and-go with Roy to make it 4-0 at the end of the first period, at which point Fort Wayne had outshot the Grizzlies 13-7.

While the Komets were missing Hodgman, the Grizzlies were also missing their leading scorer, Caleb Herbert, who is with Colorado.

Hafner preserved the four-goal lead by stopping Jack Walker on a breakaway at 11:11 of the second period. But there was a penalty called on the play – Fort Wayne’s Craig Cescon slashed Walker before the shot – and that ended up benefiting the Komets who got a short-handed goal from captain Jamie Schaafsma off the rebound of a Gibson shot for a 5-0 lead at 11:49.

Utah got its first goal from Taylor Richart on a slapshot from the right circle 15:43 into the second period. And the Grizzlies’ Tim McGauley made it 5-2 at 17:15 by banking a shot from behind the net off Roy and in.

Anthony Petruzzelli added an empty-net goal for the Komets to make it 6-3 and Utah’s Mike Economos scored in the waning seconds.

Hafner stopped 29 shots. Cannata stopped 24.

jcohn@jg.net