Komets tighten up the defense to beat Fuel

After a nifty set-up from Trevor Cheek, Komets center Justin Hodgman breaks through against Indy goaltender Matt Tomkins. (By Blake Sebring of News-Sentinel.com)
Komets forward Logan Nelson jumps to try avoiding a shot on goal during the first period. (By Blake Sebring of News-Sentinel.com)
Tomkins can't catch up with this Ryan Lowney blast during the third period. (By Blake Sebring of News-Sentinel.com)
Komets goaltender Michael Houser stops a second-period breakaway by Indy's Ryan Rupert. (By Blake Sebring of News-Sentinel.com)
Komets forward Gabriel Desjardins. (By Blake Sebring of News-Sentinel.com)

During the dog days of a season, there are always trap games. They usually happen against the weaker teams who get off to a good start and then ride the momentum to an upset.

That’s a little bit what Wednesday’s Fort Wayne Komets game felt like against the Indy Fuel. Goaltender Matt Tompkins held his team in the game early, but the Komets’ defense never let the Fuel forwards get going. Fort Wayne scored three goals in basically three minutes at the end of the second period at the start of the third for a 4-2 win.

The Komets pulled within one point of idle Toledo for first place in the ECHL’s Central Division, and Fort Wayne has still played one fewer game than the Walleye.

After scoring 73 goals in 13 games, it was important for the Komets to play some pretty strong defense. The scoring barrage had overshadowed some recent lapses at the other end of the ice that needed tightening up.

“It’s pretty obvious that we can score, and we haven’t had to play a 2-1, 3-2 game in a while,” said Komets goaltender Michael Houser who only faced 24 shots. “We’re pretty comfortable doing that when we have to. If we can keep the puck out of the net as well as we can score it would be pretty nice.”

After the Komets built a 4-1 lead on goals by Justin Hodgman, Gabriel Desjardins, Shawn Szydlowski and Ryan Lowney, things got a little loose in the final minute to allow Josh Shalla to score his usual one goal per game against the Komets. But the outcome was never in doubt.

“The last couple of games we’ve been getting big leads and then it kind of turned into pond hockey games where those kind of goals kind of happen sometimes,” defenseman Curtis Leonard said. “I think for the most part we were pretty good.”

It was the kind of game the Komets needed to execute, never letting Indy get a chance to breathe by stifling them in the neutral zone and controlling the puck enough for 41 shots against Tomkins.

The Komets play at Wheeling on Friday before coming home Saturday for another chance at goaltender C.J. Motte and Quad City who ended Fort Wayne’s six-game losing streak on Sunday.