K’s get Kamrass hat trick, name Schaafsma MVP after win
It’s time to bring on the fish.
After the Komets completed their regular season with a 5-2 victory over the Wheeling Nailers, in a game that couldn’t affect the standings in any way, Fort Wayne could set its sights on its playoff series with the rival Toledo Walleye.
Jake Kamrass scored three times for the Komets (36-26-10) today at Memorial Coliseum, as they won their third straight game.
Kamrass’ hat trick was the first for Fort Wayne since Garrett Thompson had one March 24, 2018, against Wichita.
The Komets’ best-of-7 first-round playoff series with Toledo begins with games 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Huntington Center in Toledo, Ohio.
The Nailers (31-31-10), who moved into the Central Division this season, have missed the playoffs three straight years.
There were multitudinous options from which the players could pick when choosing the MVP award, after a regular season in which the team had a bevy of trades, injuries and call-ups, and used a whopping 48 players, and the winner announced after the game was 36-year-old captain Jamie Schaafsma, who had to help keep the locker room together and also played center, wing and defense.
Schaafsma, who bested the likes of Kamrass, Brady Shaw, J.C. Campagna, Justin Hodgman, Shawn Szydlowski and Zach Fucale for MVP, won or shared four other awards, including the one for Best Defensive Forward. (Full list of awards is at the bottom of this story.)
Schaafsma had 14 goals and 31 points in 67 games.
Campagna finished second in ECHL goal scoring with 35; he was one behind Tulsa’s Adam Pleskach coming in to the day.
Fort Wayne opened the scoring when a Ryan Lowney shot from the blue line got blocked by Wheeling’s Craig Skudalski, setting up Kamrass to collect the puck and sweep a backhand shot underneath goaltender Matt O’Connor.
Kamrass, who played last year at Massachusetts-Lowell, was selected the Komets’ Rookie of the Year by reporters and team staff. Seventeen of his 22 goals this season came in 57 games after he was acquired from South Carolina for Garret Ross.
Rookie Komets goalie Alex Dubeau, who had sat in favor of Fucale the previous three games, kept the Nailers off the scoreboard by foiling a Renars Krastenbergs shot from point-blank range late in the period.
Kamrass scored 14 seconds into the second period, flicking a shot from the right circle after an Anthony Petruzzelli crossing pass had been blocked by Wheeling’s Kevin Spinozzi.
Wheeling’s Zac Lynch cut the lead to 2-1 with a shot from the right circle during a power play at 2:24 that beat Dubeau on the far side. Wheeling’s Cedric Lacroix finished off a 4-on-3 rush by going behind the net and wrapping the puck inside the right post to tie it at 2 at 5:44.
The Komets went ahead on a wild goal by Anthony Nellis at 17:33, on one of the wildest goals sequences of the season. Wheeling’s Robbie Hall coughed up the puck behind his own net, setting up Mason Baptista to feed Shaw for a shot off the post, after which a Cody Sol shot was blocked by a sliding Hall and Nellis scored from a difficult angle below the right circle.
(Video highlights are above.)
Kamrass finished his hat trick at the end of an odd-man rush 8:49 into the third period, when he smacked a Hodgman pass into the back of the net. And Shaw tacked on a goal for the Komets.
Dubeau stopped 31 shots. O’Connor stopped 36.
TEAM AWARD WINNERS
MVP: Jamie Schaafsma
Rookie of the Year: Jake Kamrass
Defenseman of the Year: Ryan Lowney
Stonewall Defensive Forward: Jamie Schaafsma
Most Improved Player: Anthony Petruzzelli
Unsung Hero: Jamie Schaafsma
True Komet: Cody Sol & Jamie Schaafsma
Mr. Hustle: Anthony Petruzzelli
Bud Gallmeier Community Service: Jamie Schaafsma