For a time Saturday night, the Komets looked better.
But they quickly fell into old habits, taking bad penalties and coughing up a two-goal lead in a 3-2 loss to the Dayton Gems, in front of 7,131 fans at Memorial Coliseum.
It was the Komets' seventh straight loss, the worst spell by anyone in the 18-team Central Hockey League this season, dropping their league-worst record to 5-15-1.
"We've got to sit down, look at the situation, and decide what we're going to do," said Komets coach Al Sims, as his players held a closed-door meeting in the locker room.
"We're not disappointed in the effort. The last four games, we've had good efforts. But we continue this parade to the penalty box and we've talked about it. Ownership has talked about it with the players and told them how they feel, and they continue to do it. So you'll have to wait and see (what we do)."
Right wing Sean O'Connor got the scoring going for the Komets at 9:03 of the first period, with his team short-handed. He poked the puck away from Gems defenseman Nick Canzanello, then won a race for the puck before tucking a backhand shot underneath goaltender Jeff Jakaitis, who made 31 saves.
Fort Wayne took a 2-0 lead with a power-play goal at 3:20 of the second period. Left wing P.C. Drouin's cross-ice pass set up center Leo Thomas for his wrist shot into the top of the net.
Former Fort Wayne player Brandon Naurato scored a power-play goal off a rebound at 10:03, in his first game with the Gems. Naurato, who had been expected to be one of the Komets' top offseason acquisitions, was waived on Thursday after he tallied two goals, six points and a minus-6 rating in 10 games.
Naurato assisted on Dayton forward Brett Lutes' game-tying goal at 3:59 of the third period, which came at the end of a 2-on-1 rush, and the Coliseum fans bore witness to a familiar catastrophe.
Fort Wayne is 4-5-1 when leading or tied after two periods of play, after going 47-9-3 in such scenarios last season, when they won their third straight championship in the IHL. Fort Wayne has been outscored 21-14 in the third periods of games.
After Komets defenseman Brandon Warner got a high-sticking major, and a game misconduct, the Gems were set up for forward Matthew Larke's power-play goal and a 3-2 lead at 12:17 of the third period.
"We had done a good job killing penalties up to that point," Sims said, "but there comes a certain point where, with a one-goal lead, you've got to be responsible and take care of business and not be taking (those types) of penalties. It's just inexcusable and ended up costing our team a good effort.
The Komets, the third-most penalized team in the CHL, have allowed opponents six power-play goals on 18 opportunities in the last two games.
Fort Wayne goalie Kevin Reiter stopped 13 of 16 shots.
The Komets are 0-5-0 against the Gems (13-9-1).
- Olivier Legault, who is scoreless in 13 games, is seeing time on the Komets' power play.
- Sims had equal ire for Warner's third-period penalty and the holding call on Chris Francis in the third period.
- Komets defenseman Craig Cescon sat out with a concussion.
- Not only was the Coliseum quiet as a morgue for most of the night, the fans jeered the Komets as they left the ice.
- The referee was Jon McIsaac.
- The Komets keep intimating there will be major changes. I continue to be skeptical. Wouldn't they have made them weeks ago? What this tells me is there aren't quality players available. And, unless they successfully get Colin Chaulk and/or Matt Syroczynski back, I don't think there will be any earth-shattering moves this week either. If the Komets do make moves now, I'll be wondering what the heck took so long.