Komets notes: Szyd’s hot streak, Toledo turnaround and defensive dominance
Shawn Szydlowski has put together some incredible numbers over the last month to take over the ECHL lead in individual scoring with 18 goals and 21 assists for 39 points. He scored 11 goals and 22 points in 12 December games, and has scored 20 points over his last 10 road games.
But wouldn’t it be amazing if the biggest turning point of the 2017-18 season came when Mason Baptista moved to center between Szydlowski and Garrett Thompson? Thompson scored nine goals and 20 points during December, and Baptista had six goals, 17 points and was plus-17.
“When you get to play with one line for a while you build chemistry and you start to read off each other pretty well,” Szydlowski said.
Big crowds, big results
The New Year’s Eve sellout of 10,479 was the Komets’ first since Feb. 16, 2013.
Since Memorial Coliseum was renovated in 2002, the Komets are 35-7-5 when playing before crowds of 10,000 fans or more. They are also 56-11-9 performing before crowds of over 9,000 fans and 108-23-16 with crowds larger than the previous coliseum capacity of 8,003.
The Komets are also 22-32-9 all-time when playing against crowds of 10,000 or more on the road.
The Komets lead the ECHL with 7,640 fans per game.
The Komets have tied the ECHL season-high with seven consecutive home wins, they’ve won 14 of 17 overall to pull within one point of Toledo for the Central Division lead. They’ve also won five of six against the Walleye this season as Michael Houser has gone 5-1 against Toledo to improve to 16-4-0 during his pro career. The Komets are now 16-4-2 during the last five seasons against Toledo at Memorial Coliseum compared to 3-14-2 the last three seasons at the Huntington Center.
The Komets have lost all four games so far this season against Cincinnati. Without those losses, or even if they split the games, the Komets would be challenging for the overall league lead.
But why do they have so many problems with Cincinnati?
Cyclones goaltender Anthony Peters is the simple answer. He’s 3-0 against Fort Wayne this season with a 1.99 goals against average and .929 save percentage. Conversely, Michael Houser is 0-2-1 against Cincinnati with a 3.32 goals against average and .874 save percentage in four games against Cincinnati.
The Komets also try to win every game against Cincinnati by a 5-4 score, and that’s not going to happen against Peters. The Komets need to be more disciplined as far as penalties and team defense. The Cyclones have scored five power-play goals against Fort Wayne, and some of the best Komets have been horrible defensively against the Cyclones. Jamie Schaafsma is minus-5, Shawn Szydlowski and Ryan Culkin are minus-4 and Garrett Thompson and Dan Maggio are minus-3. That’s an awful lot considering those five Cincinnati power-play goals.
Cody Sol continues to lead the ECHL in plus-minus at plus-21… The Komets are out-shooting teams 341-267 and out-scoring them 49-25 during third periods… The Komets lead the ECHL in scoring at 4.07 goals per game and are fifth-best in goals against at 2.77. The Komets and Manchester are the only teams to rank among the top five in both categories… The Komets are also fifth in shots for and shots against per game at 36.17 and 28.9. Idaho is the only other team in the top five in both categories.
Komets public address announcer Larry Schmitt thinks he’s found a big reason for the team’s December splurge which has gone unnoticed. He pointed out that the team’s defensemen had scored only three goals heading into December, but then they started firing into the opposing net. That makes sense, especially considering how the forwards have been making better use of their point men in the offensive zone.
The defensemen scored 10 goals and 41 points during December, with Ryan Culkin leading the way with four goals and 11 points. The defensemen were also a combined plus-66, led by Bobby Shea at plus-15, Curtis Leonard at plus-14 and Culkin at plus-11.
Icing the puck
The Komets are a ridiculous 41-15-5 during five Decembers under Gary Graham as coach… Their 12-2 record this December was the fourth-best month in franchise history. They won 13 games in December 2004 and in March 2008 and 2009. In December 2004 they played 17 games, which is incredible considering they also had a three-day Christmas break that month… Dennis Kravchenko has scored five goals in his last five home games… March has 10 road games, the most in team history. The previous record of nine was set several times, most recently in 1962… January has only four home games. The fewest in a month ever was three in March 1998.