The Journal Gazette
Saturday, January 15, 2022 1:00 am

Indy 4 Komets 2

K's have poor start to 3-game weekend

Fall behind early in losing to last-place Fuel; Toledo next

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

Things are getting awfully tight in the Central Division, so this is a particularly big weekend for the Komets, who play three games against divisional opponents in three nights.

It didn't start well, though, as Fort Wayne lost 4-2 to the Indy Fuel on Friday night at Memorial Coliseum, where the Komets paid tribute to late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. by wearing special uniforms that were auctioned off for charity.

The Komets are in third place in the division, just two points ahead of the Kalamazoo Wings and three back of the second-place Cincinnati Cyclones.

Today, the Komets play at the division-leading Toledo Walleye, who are four points ahead of them. On Sunday, the Wings come to the Coliseum for a 5 p.m. game.

Fort Wayne (17-11-4) is on a 1-4-1 slide. Indy (13-14-4), which is in sixth place in the division, has won four consecutive games.

Mario Culina stopped 27 of 30 shots for the Komets. Mitch Gillam stopped 31 of 33 for the Fuel.

The American Hockey League's Tucson Roadrunners called up Stephen Harper from Fort Wayne before the game, after the Roadrunners acquired his AHL rights from the Chicago Wolves for future considerations.

The Komets did get forward Lynden McCallum from Henderson of the AHL, where he had one goal and four points in 17 games as a rookie from the Western Hockey League's Brandon Wheat Kings, and he had an assist in the third period.

The Fuel opened the scoring on its second shot, from Riley McKay 8:56 into the first period, after Indy's Spencer Watson slithered his way through three defenders to set him up.

Indy's Karl El-Mir made it 2-0 with a rip from the left circle, during a power play at 14:13, and Griff Jeszka upped it to 3-0 on Indy's eighth shot at 18:28.

Fort Wayne captain Anthony Petruzzelli got to the rebound of his own shot and flicked it into the top of the net, during a power play 4:02 into the second period, to cut the Indy lead to 3-1.

The game then got heated, with both teams barreling over the opposing goaltenders. The Fuel finished the second period on a 4-minute power play after a fracas near the Indy net.

The Fuel didn't convert, but the Komets' Shawn Szydlowski did on a Fort Wayne power play 5:58 into the third period, after a McCallum cross-ice pass.

Fort Wayne's Oliver Cooper almost tied it late in the third period, but his shot from just a few feet out caromed off the post. Indy had a late empty-net goal.

Notes: The MLK night was believed to be the first such night in professional hockey history, certainly the first with specialty jerseys, which were auctioned off to benefit Healthier Moms and Babies, whose goal is to reduce infant mortality and improve the outcome of pregnancy in Allen County. ... Szydlowski's MLK jersey sold for the most, $1,727, followed by Petruzzelli's ($989) and Matt Alvaro's ($873). ... The Komets held a moment of silence for Teddy Balkind, the 16-year-old Connecticut hockey player who died from an injury sustained during a game Jan. 6.

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