Kozlowski Dazzles in Heartlanders Victory, 2-1
FORT WAYNE, IN – Trevin Kozlowski stopped 47 shots in his most impressive outing of the season as the Iowa Heartlanders defeated the Fort Wayne Komets, 2-1. The Heartlanders netminder dominated this contest, stopping 23 shots in the first period to help give his team the opportunity to rally for their second win in the last three games against the Komets. Joe Widmar scored the tying goal and Adrien Beraldo delivered the game-winner.
While Kozlowski was extremely impressive, it was Fort Wayne who would jump out to the early lead. At 6:41, the faceoff was inside the Heartlanders end. Kellen Jones won the draw, and Will Graber was able to move the puck ahead slightly. That allowed Stephen Harper to corral the loose puck, sweep across the slot and fire a wrist shot that beat Kozlowski over the blocker side for his fifth goal of the year.
The Komets continued to pour on the pressure, having numerous scoring opportunities through the first frame, but it was the Iowa goaltender making seemingly save after save to keep his team in the contest. That sent the teams to the first intermission with Fort Wayne leading, 1-0.
In the second, the Heartlanders had the better of the play, outshooting the Komets, 12-9. That led to them being able to tie the score at 8:49. Jack Billings made a drop pass to Widmar along the boards. The forward moved in just outside the left face-off circle before firing a wrist shot that found its way through the five hole of Bailey Brkin and in for the third goal of the season for Widmar.
The teams went to the second intermission tied at one, but Iowa would take a 2-1 lead 2:29 into the third period. Kaid Oliver gained control of the puck inside the Iowa end, feeding it to Zach Remers. He carried the puck into the neutral zone, but it was knocked off his stick just before he entered the Fort Wayne end. That allowed Beraldo to gain control, moving in just above the right face-off circle before firing a wrist shot that beat Brkin over the blocker side just inside the far post for his second goal in a Heartlanders uniform.
That was a wake-up call for the Komets, who dominated this contest over the remaining 17 minutes. That included a wild flurry just past the 12-minute mark. Connor Corcoran fired a shot from boards that was saved, but the puck moved behind the net. Seconds later the pass came out front to Harper who fired a point blank shot that Kozlowski saved, but the rebound came right back to Graber who was looking to go to the far post but, once again, the Iowa netminder made a big pad saved, knocking the puck into the corner to preserve the one goal lead.
The Komets pulled Brkin with a little under two minutes left in the contest and had a couple of good scoring chances in the final minute of the game. However, Kozlowski delivered once again, stopping 16 shots in the final period to give Iowa a 2-1 victory. With the win, Kozlowski moved to 2-5-1 and lowered his goals-against average to 4.08 in his best outing of the year.
The Heartlanders (5-11-3) return home looking for their first victory of the season against the Toledo Walleye (11-5-0). These teams will square off on Wednesday with the puck dropping at 7:00.
By Robert Pannier