Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette The Komets’ Shawn Szydlowski, the ECHL’s top scorer, proves he can fight too, tangling with Wichita’s Nick Latta during the first period Friday night at the Coliseum.
Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Kevin Defour of the Wichita Thunder strikes and scores against the Fort Wayne Komets during the first period at the Coliseum Friday night.
Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Shawn Szydlowski of the Komets stops the Wichita Thunder’s drive during the first period at the Coliseum Friday night.
Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Ryan Culkin of the Komets prepares to set Mason Baptista up for a shot during the first period against the Wichita Thunder Friday night at the Coliseum.
Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Mason Baptista of the Fort Wayne Komets celebrates after a goal during the first period against the Wichita Thunder Friday night at the Coliseum.
Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Michael Houser of the Komets defends against the Wichita Thunder offense during the 2nd period at the Coliseum Friday night.
Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Jamie Schaafsma of the Komets forces a turnover against the Wichita Thunder during the first period at the Coliseum Friday night.
Saturday, February 10, 2018 1:00 am
Komets 8 Wichita 4
Déjà vu: Komets thrash Thunder 2nd game in row
JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette
When the Komets get ready to take the ice, a strange sounding voice can be heard shouting repeatedly, “We're going boys.” And that phrase is usually followed by chuckles.
It's not what Mason Baptista is saying, though. It's how he says it.
“When I scream, I get such a raspy voice and everyone starts chucking like, 'Oh, my god.' It's pretty funny, an in-the-moment thing, an inside joke,” Baptista said.
You can be sure, though, that Baptista's teammates stop laughing quickly. He's excelling as soon as games begin.
For the second straight game, he scored just minutes into the contest Friday. And for the second straight game, the Komets annihilated the Wichita Thunder. This time, it was an 8-4 victory, in front of 7,191 fans at Memorial Coliseum.
The Komets swept the back-to-back games, outscoring the Thunder 17-7, and Fort Wayne has now won 10 of its last 11 games.
“We usually don't make every chance count like that. It seemed like every chance we were getting, we were scoring,” Baptista said. “It definitely feels nice, though. It's awesome to be able to do that a couple games, back-to-back.”
Garrett Thompson had two goals and four points. Shawn Szydlowski had four assists, bringing his ECHL scoring lead to 60 points in 41 games, and he had a plus-4 rating and a fight with Nick Latta. And Justin Hodgman, who has missed most of the season with a shoulder injury, had his first goal since Oct. 20 on a shot from between the circles.
There were two striking similarities to Wednesday's 9-3 victory: Baptista netting the game's first goal and a Dyson Stevenson penalty setting up Trevor Cheek for a key power-play goal.
Baptista netted a shot from the left circle 2:56 into the first period, on the game's second shot. It was the fourth time this season he has scored the first goal of a game. Szydlowski is the only teammate with more first goals – five.
“I try not to overanalyze myself. That's something I did earlier in my career, like after college,” said Baptista, who has 15 goals and 41 points in 41 games. “Now I just want to go out and play. It's about being prepared and making the most of your opportunities.”
With the game tied at 1 thanks to a Kevin Dufour goal, Stevenson was penalized for cross-checking Ryan Lowney. On the ensuing power play, Dennis Kravchenko sent a pass from the blue line to Hodgman at the left post and he sent a one-touch pass to Cheek for an 18-foot shot and a 2-1 lead 8:14 into the second period. Hodgman scored at 16:07 and Marco Roy redirected a Thompson shot for a 4-1 lead at 17:06.
Goals by Louick Marcotte and Thompson early in the third period put the game out of reach at 6-2 for the Komets (31-13-2), who begin a home-and-home series with the Quad City Mallards tonight in Moline, Illinois. Michael Houser stopped 24 shots for the Komets, who also got a goal from Gabriel Desjardins.
Shane Starrett stopped 28 of 34 shots for Wichita (25-18-3), which has lost five of its last six games, and Nick Riopel stopped 3 of 5 in relief.