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Komets

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Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette
Fort Wayne’s Neil Musselwhite and Dayton’s Greg Labenski battle for the puck Wednesday night.
komets 4, Dayton 2

Komets break pair of losing skids

End slide at 7, win 1st vs. Gems

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 0-4-0 against.

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

“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 beat goaltender Jeff Jakaitis at 4:06.

Just more than 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.

Dayton’s Brandon Naurato tied the game when his shot from a spot parallel to the goal squeaked between the legs of goaltender Nick Boucher at 8:05.

“Before the game, we talked about the third period and it having to be our best period,” Komets coach Al Sims said. “We were going to make it happen tonight, and the guys went out and made it happen.

“The first win after seven losses was going to be tough. And it was tough getting there. Penalties all the way ’til the end again, though. I’m not going to say anything about the officials, but the penalties at the end definitely challenged us.”

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.

They are off until they play their third straight against Dayton – on the road Sunday – before playing host to the Gems (13-10-1) on Monday.

“We’ve just got to make sure we keep the ball rolling positively, you know?” Thomas said. “We’ll see what happens.”

Notes: Drouin didn’t play because of the flu. … Defenseman Bobby Phillips was out with hand and groin injuries.

jcohn@jg.net

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