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vs. Dayton
When: 7:30 p.m. today
Radio: 1190 AM

Chaulk coming back to struggling Komets


Colin Chaulk, one of the most esteemed leaders in Komets history, is returning.

He’ll be in the lineup Friday at Memorial Coliseum, after leaving Italy’s HC Alleghe.

“It’s going to be very exciting for our fans. We know what kind of leader he is. That will help our team,” Komets general manager David Franke said. “And he can be a dominant player on the ice, too.”

Including their 2-1 shootout loss Sunday at Dayton, the Komets are mired in last place in the 18-team Central Hockey League with a 6-15-2 record, and don’t expect any one player to turn things around. Not even Chaulk, a center, who has helped the Komets to four championships in the United and International Hockey Leagues, and been voted MVP by his teammates four times.

“That’s not realistic,” Franke said. “We can’t treat him as the second coming or as the savior. He’s a big piece of the puzzle, but he’s just one piece. We’re not putting this all on his shoulders to turn this around single-handedly.”

Chaulk skated for the Komets from 2002-03 to 2005-06 and 2007-08 to last season. With aspirations of being a coach someday, he left the Komets last summer to move back to Toronto, where there are more teaching opportunities, and to play in the abridged European season.

However, his on-ice role with Alleghe, where he played in 2006-07, was not what he envisioned, and his family endured undisclosed off-ice problems with the team. He had four goals and 19 points in 26 games.

“Things just did not work out in Alleghe,” Chaulk wrote in an e-mail. “My family and I love the village. I am sure we will return for a vacation or two in the future. The people we have met from Alleghe are wonderful.”

Chaulk’s new contract with the Komets runs through the 2011-12 season, and he will be an offseason employee, involved in marketing, promotions and personnel decisions, which is permissible in the CHL, and allows the Komets to save against the salary cap.

“Naturally I am going to feel pressure regardless of the team’s record,” Chaulk wrote. “I just have to come back and concentrate on my game and try to contribute every night.”

The Komets could use Chaulk’s scoring (27 goals, 85 points last season), defensive prowess (four league-wide awards as Outstanding Defensive Forward) and his leadership. The Komets don’t have a captain, after Guy Dupuis was stripped of his ‘C’ on Dec. 14. The alternates are Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock and Leo Thomas.

“I plan to bring the same game I always have brought,” wrote Chaulk, 33, who has 150 goals and 561 points in 461 games with Fort Wayne.

The Komets were outscored 4-3 in Sunday’s shootout, with forward Ernie Stewart netting the winner in the eighth round.

Dayton (14-10-1) goalie Jeff Jakaitis stopped 31 of 32 shots, getting foiled in regulation by Schrock and in the shootout by Dupuis, Derek Patrosso and Tab Lardner.

Fort Wayne’s Nick Boucher stopped 27 of 28 shots – former Komets player Brandon Naurato scored – and gave up shootout goals to Mike Vaskivuo, Matthew Larke and Erik Boisvert.