The Journal Gazette
Monday, January 17, 2022 1:00 am

Komets 5, Kalamazoo 2

Power-play work pays off

Komets score 3 times with extra attacker, beat Wings

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

The Komets' power play had been trending in the right direction. On Sunday, it skyrocketed.

The Komets scored on 3 of 6 power-play opportunities, keying them to a 5-2 victory over the Kalamazoo Wings in front of 6,621 fans at Memorial Coliseum.

“I think it's just about moving the puck quick,” said forward Matt Alvaro, who had a power-play goal and three assists. “They have a pretty aggressive penalty kill, and we knew that, especially from playing them Wednesday (in a 5-4 loss), so if we move the puck quick then I think we can get looks.”

Alvaro scored on the rebound of a Shawn Boudrias shot that ricocheted off the post. Alvaro also had a no-look pass through the crease to set up an even-strength goal by Zach Pochiro.

Lynden McCallum had a power-play goal from the right circle, after Alvaro fed him from the corner, and an empty-net goal. Anthony Petruzzelli scored a power-play goal, redirecting a Will Graber shot.

“The first couple power plays, we were kind of skating with the puck and not moving it, so they were pressuring us into turning it over,” Alvaro said. “Once we started moving the puck, shooting it, we could get second-chance opportunities and we were rewarded.”

The Komets came into the night ranked 24th among the ECHL's 27 teams with a 15.7% efficiency on their power plays.

“Sometimes it just clicks, and we've made adjustments on the fly,” Komets coach Ben Boudreau said. “We're getting new guys in there, like (McCallum and Darien Kielb), but I felt like we had been knocking on the doorstep and weren't getting the bounces. ... I thought tonight we did, the puck landing on our stick after a shot and a rebound. And it's the simple things about getting to the areas where you've got to go to score goals. Petey's goal was 5 feet out from the net. Alvaro's, that was a tap-in.”

The Komets (18-12-4) have scored on 10 of 36 power-play opportunities (27.8%) over their last seven games. They're only 2-4-1 in that span, but there have been some unlucky happenings – namely the puck caroming off a seam in the Wings Event Center boards to give Kalamazoo (19-13-0) the winning goal with 52 seconds remaining Wednesday.

The Komets' goalie caught out of position Wednesday was Liam Hughes, who was supposed to start Saturday's game at Toledo, a 3-2 Komets loss, yet was absent after warm-ups due to an undisclosed injury/illness that was non-COVID related.

That left Mario Culina to play three games in three days, and he stopped 28 of 30 shots Sunday. Kalamazoo's Jason Pawloski thwarted 23 of 27. Kalamazoo was 0 for 6 on power plays.

Notes: The ECHL's All-Star Classic will be at 7:30 p.m. today in Jacksonville, Florida, and pit a team of ECHL players against the host Icemen. The Komets had a player chosen to compete, goalie Samuel Harvey, but he's been in the higher-level American Hockey League with San Jose since Dec. 27. ... Defenseman Matt Murphy was called up to Abbotsford of the AHL.

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