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Muskegon tops struggling K’s

Sims not worried about offense

O’Connor

Komets coach Al Sims was asked after Friday night’s 3-2 loss to the Muskegon Lumberjacks if he was worried about the offense.

“No,” he said flatly.

Maybe he should be.

The two-time defending IHL champions have produced seven goals over the past four games, including back-to-back losses to their hated rivals.

Fort Wayne (7-4-0) has dropped to fifth place in the seven-team league, though the Komets’ top-ranked defense has given up just seven goals in the last four games.

“We’re getting good scoring chances,” said right wing Sean O’Connor, who put the Komets ahead 2-1 with a power-play goal during an odd-man rush early in the second period.

“In the second period alone, we got (13) shots. The key is, we’ve got to find ways to get some dirty goals, some rebound goals and just keep going to the net. We’re getting chances. It’s not a lack of effort. That’s one thing we can say, that we’re working hard and getting chances. Sooner or later, they’ll start going in. Whatever it takes. Simplifying the game and going to net is probably what we’re going to have to do.”

First-place Muskegon (10-3-1) tied it at 7:31 when right wing Robin Bouchard sent a pass out of the right corner and center Todd Robinson, last season’s IHL MVP, was there to bang it in into the net.

A shot from Muskegon forward Bobby Bolt caught goaltender Tim Haun off guard, but he kicked it to his left before forward Brian Bicek one-timed it into an open net for the game-winner at 14:50 of the third period, in front of 8,176 fans at Memorial Coliseum.

In defense of the Komets’ offense, they were without center Colin Chaulk, who was in Toronto attending a funeral. The Komets plan to fly him from there to Bloomington, Ill., in time for tonight’s game. The Komets were also without high-scoring forwards Konstantin Shafranov (concussion) and Matt Syroczynski, who has two goals and three points in 11 games since being called up by Norfolk of the American Hockey League.

But Friday saw the debut of newly signed right wing Justin Chwedoruk, who was scoreless. The former Quad City star – he had 24 goals and 68 points in 71 games during 2006-07 – began this season in Europe.

“I thought he had a lot of energy and speed,” Sims said. “He created great chances, made some great plays to guys in front of the net and had some chances himself. I don’t think he’s in great shape yet and neither is David Hukalo (who has played two games this season). Those guys have got to get into better shape and then they’ll be more effective.”

Fort Wayne’s Leo Thomas had an early power-play goal, and Muskegon’s John DiPace also scored.

Haun stopped 22 shots. Muskegon’s Sebastien Centomo turned away 24.

Notes: Several fans pelted Muskegon players with debris after the final horn. … Defenseman Kevin Bertram (hamstring) played for the first time since the season opener. … Former Komets center Mathieu Curadeau has been called up from Kalamazoo of the ECHL to Worcester of the American Hockey League.

jcohn@jg.net

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