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The Journal Gazette

Monday, April 16, 2018 1:00 am

Sol makes most of 5-on-3 opportunity

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

Defenseman Cody Sol has experience on the power play – he's known for having one of the hardest shots in the ECHL. But he hasn't been needed as much the last two seasons because the Komets have brought in playmaking blue-liners like Ryan Culkin, Jason Binkley and Bobby Shea or used forwards to run the point.

But the Komets are so decimated by injuries these days, coach Gary Graham is pulling out every trick in his arsenal and using Sol during a 5-on-3 power play Sunday paid off.

Sol's rocketing shot from 45 feet out was the first – and most important – goal of the Komets' 3-1 victory over the Cincinnati Cyclones, which gave them a 2-0 lead in the Central Division semifinals that shifts to Cincinnati for Thursday's Game 3.

“I don't do a whole lot of power play, but for a 5-on-3 (advantage) they like to use my one-timer,” said Sol, who was set up on the play by Shawn Szdylowski.

Szydlowski skated from the right side of the offensive zone to the left, then sent a pass to Sol for the one-timer that bested goalie Jonas Johansson, who stopped 35 of 37 shots.

“Szyd worked it high and put it right in my wheelhouse, so I have to give credit to Szydlowski for that pass. But I just gripped it and ripped it and it happened to go in,” said Sol, who had eight goals and 29 points in 53 regular-season games but no points on power plays.

Last season, he had one goal and one assist on power plays, and he totaled seven goals and 24 points in 56 games.

Cincinnati, which got all three penalties of the scoreless first period, scored on 1 of 5 power plays, with Justin Vaive besting Michael Houser 19:23 into the third period to cut Fort Wayne's lead to 2-1. Fort Wayne, which was 1 for 3 on power plays, was set up for Sol's 5-on-3 goal when Cincinnati's Arvin Atwal yanked the stick from Garrett Thompson's hands and Vaive drove Thompson hard into the boards, inciting a melee after the Komets were already on a power play.

“We were fortunate to lose the special-teams battle (in Game 1), yet win the game,” said Graham, whose Komets had won the opener 4-3 in double overtime, despite Cincinnati going 2 for 4 on power plays and Fort Wayne being 1 for 5. “Tonight it came down to the 5-on-3 and we talk about it all the time, the (importance) of the 5-on-3. It was a great job by Syd and Sol; they executed exactly what we were looking for and to get rewarded for it was special.”

Sol's impact was clear even before he scored as the Komets tried to regain their legs from the beleaguering opening game; he doled out three checks as Fort Wayne led Cincinnati 8-2 in first-period hits.

“We need to see what we did right, look at the video, and look at the positives and the negatives and just try to get better as we go along,” said Sol, adding the defense cannot let down against an offensively charged Cincinnati team that has yet to get a single point from Winston Day Chief or Shawn O'Donnell and could get Justin Danforth back from Rochester of the American Hockey League at any time. “We need to keep their speed away from us.”

jcohn@jg.net