The Komets' chances of winning a Huber Trophy as regular-season champions of the IHL took a hit Friday night, in the form of a 4-1 road loss to the Muskegon Lumberjacks.
Muskegon now leads the second-place Komets by eight points, though the Komets have 12 remaining games, two more than the Lumberjacks, to make up the ground needed for home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs.
Furthering the Komets' cause will be that 10 of their remaining games are against the league's worst teams, Dayton, Flint and Quad City, including Saturday's match at Dayton, Ohio.
Playing without center Leo Thomas (concussion) and right wing Brad MacMillan (separated shoulder), the Komets weren't able to solve the goaltending of Muskegon's Sebastien Centomo, who stopped 36 of 37 shots.
Only Fort Wayne defenseman Guy Dupuis was able to find the back of the net, tying it at 1 at 6:36 of the second period. Answering for the Lumberjacks were Robin Bouchard, the all-time leading goal scorer in minor-league history, and Brian Bicek, who tallied twice.
Fort Wayne goalie Nick Boucher stopped 33 of 37 shots, but his team lost for only the fourth time in the last 16 games.
The Komets (41-20-3), who have won three straight regular-season championships in the IHL, and back-to-back Turner Cup titles, have one more head-to-head match-up with Muskegon (45-18-3), at Memorial Coliseum on April 7.
Barring a meeting in the playoffs, Friday's game was the Komets' last at L.C. Walker Arena, since the Lumberjacks are dropping to junior hockey, in the United States Hockey League, after this season.