Tailing the Komets: Jason Binkley’s goal defeats defending ECHL champions

Jason Binkley

A strong team effort helped the Fort Wayne Komets hold off the defending Kelly Cup champion Colorado Eagles on the road Wednesday night. Jason Binkley’s goal at 9:40 of the third period held up over a hair-raising final 10 minutes. The final score was 4-3.

The win allowed the Komets, 4-3-1, to jump from sixth to fourth place in the ECHL’s Central Division.

The Komets were playing without captain Jamie Schaafsma who missed the game with the flu and center Dennis Kravchenko who is still recovering from a blocked shot to the back of the let. Forward Shawn Szydlowski was not expected to play because of an undisclosed injury, but played a limited role and scored a short-handed breakaway goal.

Marc-Oliver Roy scored his fifth goal of the season for the Komets, and rookie Artur Tyanulin stayed hot with his fifth goal in just five games. Binkley’s goal gives him 10 points in eight games. Ryan Culkin and Zac Larraza each had two assists.

Goaltender Garrett Bartus made 19 saves to improve his record to 13-1 during his career as a Komet in a game after his team loses. The Komets started this five-game road trip with a 6-3 loss in Kalamazoo on Sunday.

Say goodbye

Unless the teams meet in the playoffs, Wednesday’s game was the Komets’ last in Loveland at least for a while as the Eagles are moving to the American Hockey League next season. The Komets are 3-4 all-time in Loveland, while the Eagles were 2-1 in Fort Wayne.

The Komets are 13-10-4 all-time against teams from Colorado.

Familiar foe

The Komets will see former teammate Kyle Thomas this weekend in Utah. He leads the Grizzlies and is tied for third in the ECHL with 14 points in 12 games. After Thomas signed an American Hockey League deal with San Diego over the summer, the Komets traded his rights to Utah for Ralph Cuddemi so Thomas could play for San Diego’s ECHL affiliate.

Though the teams met two years ago in the playoffs, the last time Fort Wayne traveled to Utah for a regular-season game was in the old International Hockey League on Feb. 5, 1999, a 3-2 Fort Wayne win over the old Grizzlies. The Komets are 33-31-7-3 against Utah (Salt Lake City) teams all-time since the very first meeting Nov. 3, 1984 in the IHL. That’s not bad considering from 1987-88 through March 5, 1992, the Komets had a 14-game road losing streak to teams from Utah, the record in Fort Wayne’s pro hockey history.

Icing the puck

Assistant coach Ben Boudreau celebrated his 33rd birthday on Wednesday… The Brampton Beast have called up Fort Wayne-native Jackson Leef from Evansville of the Southern Professional Hockey League. The son of Komets great Ron Leef, the forward had three goals and four points in six games with Evansville… Gabriel Desjardins and Justin Hodgman did not make the road trip because they are injured reserve. They are eligible to come off after Saturday’s game… Late Komets broadcaster Bob Chase’s daughter Karin Thomsen attended Wednesday night’s game in Loveland, Co. She’s a high school teacher and volleyball coach in Evergreen, Co.