FORT WAYNE, IN. – The Komets can’t change the past, but Friday night’s 5-0 demotion of the Allen Americans still provided a little redemption. Even for someone who wasn’t on last year’s roster.

“You know short-term memory, you forget about it, it’s over, it’s a new year,” said Fort Wayne center Mason Baptista. “But in the back of your head you’re always thinking, ‘these are the guys that knocked them out.’

“I didn’t have the chance to help the team out at that point. That’s a good hockey team out there, but we were better. We’ve got to keep that up.”

The Komets and Americans met in the Western Conference Finals of the 2016 Kelly Cup playoffs, and Allen earned a 4-1 series victory en route to their second straight Kelly Cup title.

Fort Wayne coach Gary Graham said that while “there’s no doubt” the win felt good, it was more important to avoid a losing streak.

“We just had to take care of getting two points,” Graham said. “We didn’t want to string together another loss and sit around all week until we play again.”

Friday night, sitting around cost Allen—no matter which team was in the penalty box.

The Komets’ special-teams units totaled three goals; first on a power play before adding a pair of shorthanded markers.

Just over four minutes into the first period, Mike Cazzola tapped in a goal on the man advantage. Fort Wayne had the power play because of a double-minor from Derek Mathers, which followed an uncalled cross-check by Spencer Asuchak that knocked Komets goalie Pat Nagle out of the game.

Nagle, who had three saves, did not return.

The Komets controlled the ice throughout the first period—a sign of things to come—accumulating 19 shots compared to six.

At the 12:35 mark of the second period, Kyle Thomas beat Allen goalie Jamie Murray—who also replaced an injured starter, Riley Gill—high glove side for the first shorthanded goal off a pass from Jamie Schaafsma.

“I was racing to the corner to clear it,” Schaafsma said, “and I heard Tommy yell and I took over a look over my shoulder and saw him busting.

“With his speed, he was gone.”

Thomas also registered three assists.

Fort Wayne continued to dominate the shot column in the second period, but Murray made several impressive saves. Shortly before the frame ended, though, Baptista deflected in his first goal of the season after Bobby Shea threw a puck on net from the right boards.

“That’s what you’re trying to do as a team,” Baptista said. “Keep stepping on – even though you’re not scoring, the chances will come, the opportunities will open up. We were on the right side of it all.”

Schaafsma and Garrett Thompson—the other shorthanded scorer—each netted a third-period goal for the Komets, who improved to 4-1. Hartzell corralled 24 shots, picking up his first win with the team.

Allen dropped to 3-3 on the season.

Fort Wayne’s next game is Wednesday, November 2, against the Cincinnati Cyclones.


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