FORT WAYNE, IN — Shawn Szydlowski needed just four minutes to give the Komets a lead Saturday night against the Wichita Thunder. It didn’t take much longer for Fort Wayne to blow the game open.
The Komets added a pair of goals before the first period ended. Garrett Thompson scored his 16th goal of the campaign, and Trevor Cheek wristed home his 10th.
But Fort Wayne (31-15-7) wasn’t finished.
About two minutes into the second frame, Cody Sol whipped in a goal from the slot. Cheek added his second marker of the night to give the Komets an insurmountable 5-0 lead.
That goal chased Scott Greenham, who mustered 11 saves in his 27:49 minutes. Drew Owsley finished the game for the Thunder, but not without some difficulty of his own.
Cheek backhanded home his third tally of the night at the 8:08 mark in the third period. Szydlowski and Gabriel Desjardins notched the assists.
Wichita (16-32-4) managed a 28-27 advantage in shots but failed to take advantage of four power-play chances. Otherwise, Fort Wayne dominated the puck while the Thunder struggled on the backcheck and were unable to match the Komets’ speed.
“I thought it really started with our [defense],” said head coach Gary Graham. “I think our D the last couple of nights has been playing a lot better with the puck and making better decisions. We’re exiting the zone a lot better with speed and it allows the forwards to really get vertical through the neutral zone by them making good, quick decisions with the puck.”
Along with Sol’s goal, defenseman Dan Milan added a helper for Fort Wayne’s blue-liners.
Komets winger Colin Mulvey didn’t make an impression in the box score, but he constantly created pressure in the neutral zone and chased down pucks in the offensive zone.
“He’s a very dynamic player,” Graham said. “He’s a lot like Kyle Thomas; he can create offense basically all by himself. We’re focused now on trying to get Colin … to make a little bit quicker decisions with either shooting it or passing it once he gets into the offensive zone. It’s only a matter of time once he gets familiar with what we like to do consistently offensively where I think we’ll start seeing him on the stat sheet.”
Garrett Bartus, who recorded his third shutout of the season, credited the Komets defense with giving him clear sightlines throughout the night.
“[We were] getting physical in front, tying up their sticks so they’re not able to tip pucks, just letting me see that shot, try to control the rebound and if I do let one out they’re right there to clear it out and there’s not really a second or third chance.”
Fort Wayne forwards Mike Embach and Brett Perlini also dished two assists in the victory.
The Komets will host the Wheeling Nailers (27-20-6) Sunday night at the Coliseum.