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The Journal Gazette

  • Photos by Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Komets defenseman Anthony Cortese takes a shot Sunday as Kalamazoo's Tyler Heinonen defends during the first period Sunday at Memorial Coliseum.

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Hundreds of fans line the hallways of Memorial Coliseum to take pictures with the Stanley Cup before Sunday’s Komets game with Kalamazoo.  

  • “Komets Mom” Ruth Wiegmann receives a plaque from general manager David Franke as she is inducted into the Komets Hall of Fame on Sunday. Also honored were former players Jim Burton and Ron Leef and TV reporters Kent Hormann and Dean Pantazi.

Monday, March 12, 2018 1:00 am

Kalamazoo 6 Komets 3

Wings, refs frustrate K's

Captain, coach say officials refused to talk

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

Forward Shawn Szydlowski, the ECHL's leading scorer, got a 10-minute misconduct with 13:39 remaining and his Komets down one goal Sunday. Referee Sean Fernandez had seen him waving the white flag on the Memorial Coliseum bench – actually a white towel – as the Komets felt they could solve neither the Kalamazoo Wings nor the officials in what turned into a 6-3 loss in front of 8,955 fans.

“It was a poor job, just awful communication, from the whole refereeing staff, the ref and the linesmen,” Komets coach Gary Graham said. “The problem is when you don't open up and you don't want to talk to anybody, and you can't get explanations from (the officials), it gets very frustrating. As the captain, Szyd said, 'Sean will not talk to me.' He would not come over and talk to me either.

“There were lots of missed holding the sticks and chops. An email had gone out this week (from the league) on stick-work, and clearly he didn't see it. The amount of stuff my guys battled through tonight, it was just appalling, and it's very tough to play in a game like that.”

The Komets (41-16-3), who have lost only five of their last 25 games, got goals from Gabriel Desjardins, Dennis Kravchenko and Garrett Thompson.

It was a disappointing end to a weekend in which they honored members of their nine championship teams, had the Stanley Cup on hand and inducted into their Hall of Fame former players Ron Leef and Jim Burton, unofficial team mom Ruth Wiegmann and television reporters Dean Pantazi and Kent Hormann.

“We expect nothing but greatness and want to be the best of the best,” Kravchenko said. “We've got the talent on the team to prove that. So when we come out with anything but our best, I think we're disappointed – like after we let a game get away from us like we did today.”

The Wings (29-25-6), who led 46-32 in shots, got two goals from Josh Pitt, and one apiece from Tyler Biggs, Kyle Blaney, Kyle Bushee and Eric Kattelus.

“Our problem with our forward group is we don't defend our net-front at all,” Graham said. “We did a great job of that (and won) Friday at Kalamazoo, and the problem is you show them the positive (on film) and then they completely forget about it and make the same mistakes over and over again. We've got a bunch of guys who are setting themselves up for great contracts over the summer with all their points, but you're not going to win in the playoffs with a forward group that doesn't want to defend.”

Although no power-play goals were scored, Kalamazoo got seven of the eight power plays, including one from a major penalty on Desjardins for boarding Bushee, a call made by a linesman minutes after it happened.

The Komets lost defenseman Bobby Shea to an upper-body injury when his teammate, Thompson, collided with him. The Komets, who play Wednesday at Reading, Pennsylvania, will try to re-sign defenseman Brandon Lubin, who was released Sunday. They are also getting back defenseman Daniel Maggio from Tucson of the higher-level American Hockey League, which recalled forward Trevor Cheek on Sunday night.

Note: Cincinnati's Dominic Zombo, who was struck by a teammate's shot in the Komets'  4-1 victory Saturday, and taken off the ice on a stretcher, was released from the hospital.