BLAKE SEBRING: Observations on Friday’s Komets game

Louick Marcotte screens Wheeling goaltender Will King as Komets defenseman Ryan Culkin scores Fort Wayne's first goal Friday night. (By Blake Sebring of
Shawn Szydlowski scores the Komets' fourth goal off a 2-on-1 late in the third period. (By Blake Sebring of
Gabriel Desjardins goes down to block a Wheeling power-play shot during the third period. (By Blake Sebring of
Komets goaltender Michael Houser dives out for a pokecheck during the first period. (By Blake Sebring of

Observations on Friday’s game

* Did you happen to notice where the Komets’ four goals (not counting the empty-net goal) came from? Three came straight up the middle and the first goal came from the side where there was another teammate sliding down the middle. The game-winning goal from Bobby Shea was particularly interesting as forwards Garbriel Desjardins and Dennis Kravchenko headed to the net and took the defensemen with then, that left Shea wide open to slide down the middle and he buried the slap shot.

* The Komets didn’t play a great game but they did play an efficient one. With a patched-together lineup, they survived the first 10 minutes thanks to Michael Houser in net, and then they clamped down defensively against a very good Wheeling team. They did a lot of that by blocking shots. How about Kravchenko getting two on one play? Taylor Crunk, Garrett Thompson, Cody Sol and Desjardins all had blocks at key times.

Kind of interesting because Komets coach Gary Graham talked about that this week during practice.

“When we play these good teams, if we want to win, we have to be more desperate in terms of shot blocking,” Graham said. “Other teams… will have more shot blocks than us and we just have to give that much more.”

* It’s almost been under the radar, but Shea has been outstanding of late. After starting the season minus-11 and needing 17 games to get his first point, the defenseman has two goals and six points over his last 10 games and he’s also plus-10 over his last 11 games. That’s not easy to do.

“He’s been playing some great hockey over the last month and a half,” Graham said. “It’s a process throughout the season, and I think he can get streaky. Right now, for me, he’s playing great defensive hockey and when you play good defensive hockey, your confidence offensively can come from that.”

* Houser is now 8-1 during December, dropping his goals against average from 3.50 to 2.72 and improving his save percentage from .887 to .907.

* They only scored one goal, but the line of Kravchenko, Louick Marcotte and Desjardins was a combined plus-12 Friday night. Morcotte was plus-5.

* The Komets are a little concerned about the status of captain Jamie Schaafsma who missed his second game in a row due to illness.

“We got him in to see the doctors,” General Manager David Franke said. “He’s just going to have to take some time to get over this I guess. He’s got the flu.”

While Schaafsma is out, Daniel Maggio is wearing an “A” as a third alternate captain along with Cody Sol and Shawn Szydlowski.

* Center Justin Hodgman has resumed skating, and he’s probably 10-days-to-two-weeks away from resuming full contact. If he had to put a target date on it, Hodgman is hoping to be able to play by Jan. 20.

* Despite playing well, Logan Nelson lost his point-scoring streak at eight games.

* With two games to go, the Komets leading scorers during December are Thompson and Szydlowski with 17 points, Mason Baptista with 13, Desjardins with 11 and Ryan Culkin with 10. Schaafsma has six goals in eight games.

The Komets are 10-2 so far in December, their most wins in a month since January 2016. They haven’t had 11 wins in a month since December 2011.

* Something to be aware of heading forward, the Komets have had 31 power-play attempts during December, while their opponents have had 44 or basically one more per game.