Blaze Bounce Back with Win Over CHL Leader
BLOOMINGTON - The Bloomington Blaze, presented by Mid-Illini Credit Union, bounced back by defeating the Central Hockey League-leading Fort Wayne Komets 4-2 on Tuesday evening at U.S. Cellular Coliseum.
The Blaze tallied first with 3:34 remaining in the first period when Jon Booras recorded his team-leading 15th goal at the right post from a feed by Mark Znutas. Vladimir Nikiforov recorded the other assist to send the Blaze into the first intermission with a 1-0 lead.
Bloomington extended the advantage to 2-0 on a slap shot from the left point by Aaron Dawson was redirected by Kyle Laughlin for his eleventh goal, also assisted by Jason Dale with 4:09 left in the second frame. The Komets broke onto the scoreboard with a four-on-four tally by Jamie Milam, who reached a loose puck in the crease and trickled the puck over the goal line just out of Blaze reach with 3:36 left in the middle period. The Blaze went to the second intermission with a 3-1 lead after Vladimir Nikiforov took a long pass from Omar Pacha and scored top-shelf on a breakaway with 38 seconds remaining.
The Blaze pushed out to a 4-1 lead with 6:21 left on a short-handed goal by Jason Dale, assisted by Luke Popko and Aaron Dawson. The Komets answered 28 seconds later with Stephon Thorne's tally to cut the Blaze advantage to 4-2, but the Blaze held off an extra-man attack in the final minute to seal the win.
Zane Kalemba improves to 9-9-1 with the win by making 47 saves. Nick Boucher sustained only his fifth loss of the season to fall to 18-5-1 with 19 saves. The Blaze are now 2-3-0 against the Komets and improve to 10-18-2 overall, while the first-place Komets fall to 20-8-1.
Jon Booras left the ice with a lower-body injury at the end of the second period, and his status is not known. Before the game, the Blaze signed forward Chris Ferazzoli, a fourth-year pro who spent the early part of this season with the Brooklyn Aviators of the Federal Hockey League, where he collected 10 goals and 16 assists for 26 points in 18 games. The Blaze waived defenseman Greg Moore before the contest; Moore played 15 games with one goal, and spent much of the campaign so far on the injured reserve list.
The Blaze host the Evansville IceMen on Friday and Saturday nights before returning to Evansville to complete the three-game weekend series on Sunday entering the All-Star break. Friday is a Pepsi Date Night, when fans bringing a Pepsi product to the U.S. Cellular Coliseum box office when buying a reserved seat ticket receive a second ticket free, and combo meals are two for one. Pepsi products will be donated to the Clare House Food Pantry. Saturday is the annual Guns and Hoses day, when local police and firefighters play their annual game at 4 p.m. followed by the Blaze contest at 7:05 when the Blaze will wear special jerseys that will be auctioned after the game to benefit Special Olympics Illinois. Gates will open on Saturday at 3:30.
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