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Komets

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Laura J. Gardner | The Journal Gazette
The Komets’ David Hukalo attempts to keep the puck away from Flint’s Chris Bogas on Sunday.

K’s forward looks to past to top Flint

To heck with throwing the book at ’em. Forward Leo Thomas threw his personal archives instead.

“Yeah,” he said Sunday night, the music wailing in the Komets dressing room, a weekend-saving 3-2 overtime victory over Flint in the books. “I made a move I used to use back when I was younger, and it went in.”

So score it a “W” for ancient artifacts on a night when the legs and the energy were all but a memory. Playing their third game in three nights, the Komets looked absolutely as leaden at times as they should have but woke up a quiet evening with two goals in the second period and then won it on Thomas’ breakaway 2:02 into overtime.

It was Thomas’ second goal of the night and seventh of the season, an awakening that mirrored the Komets’ own. Having scored just two goals in losses to Quad City and Dayton on Friday and Saturday, the Komets (12-6-1) showed glimmers of finding a touch around the net that’s only sporadically been evident with forwards Brad MacMillan and Konstantin Shafranov out with injuries.

“Yeah, it definitely gets frustrating at times when we have as many offensive guys on this team as we do,” Thomas said. “But we learn that you can’t get too frustrated or it keeps getting worse. You’ve got to keep plugging away.”

Plugging away was more like plodding away for the weary Komets for a period-and-a-half Sunday in front of 6,411 in Memorial Coliseum.

They put 14 shots on Flint goalie Rob Nolan in the first period, but none of them were the kind of shots that produce goals, and Flint (6-12-3) got to the first break with a 1-0 lead. John Ronan scored the goal at 16:07, cruising unmarked up the slot and rifling Greg Bullock’s centering pass past Komets goalie Tim Haun.

Thomas got the equalizer at the 9:01 mark of the second period out of a scramble in front as the Komets crashed the net. It was Fort Wayne’s first goal in more than six periods, or since Tomas Klempa scored at 1:10 of the second period in a 3-2 shootout loss Friday to Quad City.

Not quite six minutes after Thomas woke the echoes, Komets forward David Hukalo got his first goal of the season. Rick Smith tied it for Flint 2:31 into the third, and the heat was on Haun from there on out, as the Generals outshot the Komets 15-5 in the final period.

Two minutes into overtime, Sean O’Connor latched onto the puck along the boards and hit the breaking Thomas in stride, and Thomas deked Nolan and tucked the winner into the net to Nolan’s left.

“Sean O’Connor just made an unbelievable pass,” Komets coach Al Sims said. “Just whirled on the wall and it was on Leo’s stick.”

The rest was all muscle memory, plus the welcome sight of something going right for once in the offensive end.

“Maybe it’s a good thing it’s happening now instead of 40 games from now when we’re either fighting for a playoff spot or fighting for first place,” Thomas said. “We’ve just got to keep working hard and the chances will come.”

bensmith@jg.net

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