The Journal Gazette
Monday, February 22, 2021 1:00 am

Komets 6, Wheeling 2

Komets' power play comes to life

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

Success on the power play depends on a lot of factors, maybe the biggest being chemistry between a team's offensive-minded skaters.

It wasn't surprising that the Komets' power play had started off poorly, since some players hadn't competed in 11 months because of the pandemic and had no preseason to get things polished with an overhauled roster. Fort Wayne came into Sunday having scored on only 2 of 23 power plays for an ECHL-worst efficiency of 8.7%, although Fort Wayne had played only five games and the other 13 teams had all skated at least 20.

Fort Wayne's power play figured it out against the Wheeling Nailers on Sunday. Zach Pochiro got two of his three goals on power plays, and the Komets swept their three-game set with the Nailers by winning 6-2, in front of an announced crowd of 2,943 at Memorial Coliseum.

“I think we were on the same page there, and it showed tonight, we capitalized,” said Pochiro, who has totaled six goals in five games.

“We've got a lot of skill on that power play, so I think we (had been) kind of watching to see who was going to do what, this or that. But once coach made it very clear, 'This is our game plan, this is how we're going to attack,' it all kind of fell into place.”

The Komets scored on 4 of 5 power plays and got a short-handed goal from Spencer Smallman, who finished the scoring on a breakaway for his second goal of the game.

“I think (the power-play success) was just about finding a rhythm,” coach Ben Boudreau said. “We had a little bit more time without the morning skate today, so we had some meetings with each group, just giving them a little bit of structure. We were changing lineups every single day from Wednesday to Friday to Saturday, and we hadn't had a chance to practice it, and we found a lot of cohesion with the group we had today.”

The Komets (3-1-2) are six games into their truncated, 50-game season, and they've played all but one against the Nailers (5-12-4), going 3-0-2.

Fort Wayne goaltender Louis-Philip Guindon, who had stopped 18 of 22 shots in his only prior professional game, a 4-3 overtime loss to the Nailers on Feb. 13, got off to a rough start Sunday. He allowed goals on the first two shots he faced: Kyle Marino redirected a Matt Alfaro pass, and Patrick McNally scored on a 60-foot wrister during a 4-on-3 man-advantage for the Nailers, who were 1 for 6 on power plays.

Guindon then got on a roll and finished with 18 saves.

“When we needed him there, he was there,” Boudreau said. “And it's a full vote of confidence. He was able to impress the Komets fans, impress the coaching staff, impress the players. And he was one of the boys, so whoever is playing in the net, we know they're going to give us a chance to win on any given night.”

Wheeling's Hayden Hawkey stopped 21 of 27 shots, allowing a goal to Anthony Petruzzelli on a power play. Pochiro scored off two rebounds and a redirection of a Shawn Szydlowski shot.

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