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Ice Chips

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      The Komets' goal was clear tonight: Get in front of the net, wreak havoc, get to rebounds and score goals. They did that in a 5-1 victory over the Reading Royals, giving them a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
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    After two periods at Memorial Coliseum, the Komets lead the Reading Royals 2-1 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. The series is tied at 1.
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At long last, Komets win

The fan charging through the concourse as the final horn blared said it all.

"We got one," he shouted. "We got one, baby. (Expletive), it's about time."

Finally, the Komets won a game, snapping a seven game losing streak. Finally, the Komets foiled the Dayton Gems, whom they were 0 for 4 against.

Finally, the third period wasn't catastrophic, and the Komets won 4-2 Wednesday, in front of 6,106 fans at Memorial Coliseum.

Finally, the players could sit back in the locker room, smiles all around, with the stereo blaring loudly.

"Yeah, you know, it's been awhile for us," said center Leo Thomas, whose goal off a rebound at 13:58 of the third period was the game-winner, followed by Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock's empty-net goal.

"We knew we could do it and wanted to get this win before Christmas break here. We wanted to go into the break with a little positive attitude in the room."

The Komets had been 1-10-0 when trailing after two periods, and they were down 1-0 before center Chris Francis' 50-foot wrist shot foiled goaltender Jeff Jakaitis at 4:06.

Just over two minutes later, center Neil Musselwhite won a faceoff back to Schrock, whose shot caromed off Musselwhite's skate and in for a 2-1 lead.

The Komets gave up another goal, when Brandon Naurato's shot from a spot parallel to the goal squeaked between the legs of goaltender Nick Boucher at 8:05. It was Naurato's second goal and third point since the Komets released him Dec. 16, and all of it came in two games against Fort Wayne.

The Komets killed all six power plays they faced, including three in the third period. Meanwhile, Thomas, who was made an alternate captain last week, after Guy Dupuis was stripped of his captaincy and P.C. Drouin of his alternate captaincy, was on the bench telling his teammates he would score.

"I did call it," he said. "I didn't know it was going to be the winner, though. I'll take it."

And the Komets will take the two points, even if they remain in last place in the 18-team Central Hockey League with a 6-15-1 record, 10 points behind Evansville for the eighth and final Turner Conference playoff spot.

Notes: Drouin didn't play because of the flu. … Defenseman Bobby Phillips was out with hand and groin injuries. … Dupuis had three assists. … The referee was Zak Blazic. ... Phillips said he'll be attending a Buffalo Sabres game with Matt Syroczynski, last season's Playoff MVP. I told him the fans would probably send a collection with him. ... I don't think it's a coincidence the two guys with letters on their sweaters -- Thomas and Schrock -- came through in this game, do you?

Justin A. Cohn, pro sports coordinator for The Journal Gazette, has been covering the Fort Wayne Komets since 1997. His reporting includes game stories from home and away, features about the players and personalities associated with the Komets, plus coverage of issues affecting hockey at all levels. A native of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Cohn graduated from Emory University in Atlanta. He can be reached at 260-461-8429 or by email at jcohn@jg.net.

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