Game 40: Elmira Jackals (9-25-5-0) vs. Fort Wayne Komets (23-13-4-0)
7:05 p.m., First Arena, Elmira, New York
The Jackals finish off a quick two-game set with the Fort Wayne Komets tonight at First Arena. The match wraps up the two-game season series between the clubs after the Komets beat the Jackals, 1-0, Wednesday night
Fort Wayne is 2-2-0-0 since last week's All Star Break, playing four games in four cities. They've played at home, in Kalamazoo, in Brampton and in Elmira in the first four post-All-Star Break games. They are 5-4-1-0 in their last 10 games and 23-13-4-0 overall. With 50 points, the Komets sit in second place in the Central Division, tied with Tulsa, but with six fewer games played than the Oilers entering tonight.
The Jackals have lost three straight games, the final two games in Manchester and then Wednesday against the Komets. Overall Elmira is 9-25-5-0, with 23 points, which places the Jackals in sixth place in the North Division and 13th place in the Eastern Conference. Tonight begins the second straight three-in-three weekend for the Jackals and the second game of a four-game in five night stretch.
Jackals Pregame at 6:50 p.m. Radio: 1410 WELM
Last time out
Garrett Bartus made 28 saves the the Fort Wayne Komets broke a scoreless tie late in the third to beat the Jackals, 1-0, Wednesday night at First Arena.
The Jackals had their chances in the first two periods, playing a strong 40 minutes and generating 24 shots against Bartus, who turned all of them aside. His counterpart, Andy Iles, faced 18 shots through two periods and it was a 0-0 game entering the third.
The Komets played their best period of the night in the third and finally broke the ice with under four minutes to play. Jamie Schaafsma found Devin Mantha with a pass to the right circle and Mantha drove towards the net. His shot was stopped, but Mason Baptista pounced on the rebound at the right circle and sent a spin-around, backhand shot towards the net, which got past Iles who was knocked down on the play. That made it 1-0 Komets and Bartus would make several late saves to preserve the shutout win for Fort Wayne.
Tonight begins the second straight three-in-three weekend for the Jackals, who also played three games in three days last weekend in Manchester. Including last weekend's set in Manchester, the Jackals have six consecutive weeks that include a three-in-three, with one every week in February. Next week the Jackals play three straight--one at home and two on the road--against Brampton.
This is the third such scenario this season; the first came the weekend following Thanksgiving, when the Jackals won a pair of games against the Monarchs and lost once against Reading. In all, the Jackals have 10 three-in-three stretches in 2016-17.
In addition to this being the second of six straight three-in-three weeks, the Jackals are in the midst of their busiest 10-day stretch of the season. Including last weekend in Manchester, the Jackals will play seven games in 10 days, the only time this season the Jackals go through a stretch like that.
The continued their roster shuffle this week, making two separate trades with Western Conference teams. First, the Jackals sent forward Tyson Fawcett to Tulsa for defenseman Jacob Poe and the ECHL playing rights of Miles Koules, who was recalled to the AHL's Ontario Reign.
Elmira then traded those two pieces to the Indy Fuel for second-year defenseman Matt Stanisz, who is set to make his Jackals debut tonight. He had 10 points (4g, 6a) in 35 games with the Fuel this season after playing for the Florida Everblades as a rookie in 2015-16.
Tonight is the second of two head-to-head matches between the Jackals and Komets this season, after Wednesday's 1-0 Komets win in Elmira. These are the first two matches head-to-head since the 2014-15 season, when Fort Wayne won two of the three, including the only game in Elmira.
Since the Komets joined the ECHL prior to the 2012 season, the clubs have met 14 times, with the Jackals holding an 8-6-0-0 record in those games. The former UHL foes met seven times in 2013-14, which is the most they've played in a single season, and the Jackals won five of those seven.
Scouting the Komets
Fort Wayne emerged from the All-Star break with and played four games in four cities, with one at home and one in Kalamazoo, Brampton and Elmira. They are 2-2-0-0 out of the break and they are now 5-4-1-0 in their last 10 games. Overall, the Komets are 23-13-4-0 and have 50 points, which places them in second place in the Central Division.
The Komets offense enters the night ranked third in the ECHL, producing 3.75 goal per game. They've scored 58 goals in the third period, which is third most in the league. Fort Wayne has three of the top 10 scorers in the ECHL, led by Shawn Szydlowski's 49 points (21g, 28a), which ranks fourth in the league. Szydlowski is currently on recall with the AHL's Cleveland Monsters. Kyle Thomas is right behind him with 48 points (21g, 27a) and Mike Cazzola is next at 46 points (16g, 30a). Those two were held off the scoresheet Wednesday night.
Among active goalies, Garrett Bartus has seen the majority of the action, appearing in 17 games and posting a 11-4-1-0 record with a 2.45 goals-against average--fourth in the ECHL--and a .911 save percentage. He picked up his second shutout of the season Wednesday night. P.J. Musico has appeared in four games with the Komets since he was acquired in a trade from Greenville, holding a 1-2-1-0 record in those four appearances with a 3.52 goals-against average and an .886 save percentage.
The Komets enter tonight's game with the fourth-ranked power play in the ECHL, clicking on 22.0% of their man advantages (33-for-150). They are slightly better on the road, ranking fourth in the league at 22.5% (16-for-71).
The Jackals power play was 0-for-3 Wednesday night, moving to 18th in the ECHL at 15.1% (19-for-126) on the season. Most of the damage has been done at First Arena, going 10-for-46 (21.7%) at home, which ranks fifth in the league.
Fort Wayne's penalty kill is 17th in the ECHL at 82.4%, although only three teams have allowed more power-play goals than the 33 that the Komets have allowed. It has struggled on the road, where they've allowed 24 power-play goals in 97 chances, a 75.3% rate, ranking worst in the ECHL.
The Jackals penalty kill is 4-for-4 over the last two games. On the season, Elmira is 21st in the ECHL at 80.4%, but that improves to fifth at home at 87.8%, allowing just six power-play goals on home ice.