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Laura J. Gardner | The Journal Gazette
The Komets’ Konstantin Shafranov, left center, cheers after scoring a goal during the first period at Memorial Coliseum.

Komets blow chances in defeat

Some nights the clothes make the man. And some nights they just leave him feeling … well, a trifle underdressed.

So it was that the Fort Wayne Komets broke out orange-and-black tiger-stripe jerseys Wednesday night, looking very primal and Ochocinco-ish. And then the puck went down, and suddenly Ochocinco became Ohno-cinco.

Oh, no, as one chance after another went unclaimed.

Oh, no, as a carefully preserved one-goal lead was abruptly flung to the winds.

Oh, no, as the visiting Dayton Gems scored once in the last nine minutes, then scored again, and skated off with a 2-1 victory in front of 5,258 startled patrons.

To the team on the light end, it felt a lot more given away than taken.

“We had a lot of opportunities to put that game away early,” said Komets defenseman Brandon Warner. “It should have been 3-0, 4-0 easily. Could have even been that in the first period.”

Komets coach Al Sims wholeheartedly concurred.

“We’ve got nobody to blame but ourselves,” he said.

“We must have missed the net 20 times in the first two periods. This is a goalie that’s over three goals per game and an 89 percent save percentage, and we’re not hitting the net.”

Not much of anyone was, for the longest time.

Until Jonathan Ornelas and Mike Vaskivuo put pucks behind Komets goalie Nick Boucher in the third period to win it for the Gems, the only goal of the game belonged to Konstantin Shafranov, who gave the Komets their 1-0 lead at 16:11 of the first, planting a rebound of Matt Syroczynski’s wrister from the right circle with Nathan Oke serving two minutes for hooking.

It looked as if it would stay that way for almost two full periods, as the Komets controlled the flow of play and the Gems failed to mount anything resembling a real scoring threat.

And then everything changed in the space of two minutes.

Vaskivuo finally cracked the code at 11:59 of the third, snapping a wrister from between the circles that caught a post to Boucher’s glove side. Ninety-four seconds later, the Komets got caught up ice on a 3-on-1 Dayton break, and Vaskivuo made them pay, beating Boucher off the left wing.

Boucher left his cage for the extra attacker with a minute to play, but P.C. Drouin missed the net from between the circles and Shafranov, Syroczynski and Colin Chaulk all failed to convert from the corner of the goal in the last 40 seconds to seal it for the Gems.

“They scored off the post and then they scored between (Boucher’s) legs, and that was the game,” Sims said. “We had the opportunities, we had the shots. But if you don’t bear down around the net, there isn’t much margin for error in a 1-0 game.”