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Komets

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Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
P.C. Drouin stops quickly in an attempt to shake off Quad City’s Jake Riddle on Friday night at Memorial Coliseum. For the result of the game, go to www.journalgazette.net

Reuniting top line pays off for Komets

There was a play during the Komets’ 7-5 victory over Mississippi on Wednesday that would have looked perfectly in place on any NHL highlights show.

Sean O’Connor carried the puck through traffic up the left side of the ice at Memorial Coliseum, crossed into the offensive zone and dropped a pass for P.C. Drouin before setting a pick. Drouin immediately sent a crisp pass to the front of the net, where onrushing Leo Thomas was behind the goalie to redirect the puck into an open net.

It might have been a AA-level Central Hockey League game, but the sequence was proof of the potential for Drouin, O’Connor and Thomas, who were recently reunited as linemates.

It may not be coincidence that, since the line was put back together, the Komets have played their best hockey.

Heading into Friday’s New Year’s Eve game against the Quad City Mallards, the last-place Komets had gone 3-0-1, getting six goals and 12 points from Drouin, O’Connor and Thomas.

“The three of them have just gotten back together, and it took them a bit to get back to it,” Komets coach Al Sims said. “The three of them are just reading off each other so well. That one passing play was an NHL passing play. It was bing-bang-bing and then an empty net for Leo.

“They’re capable of doing that because the three of them are so skilled. I think they’re just comfortable with each other and they’re pushing each other to be the top line and do it, get it done.”

After the way they played in the last postseason – Drouin had five goals and 18 points in 12 games, O’Connor had five goals and nine points, Thomas had five goals and 11 points – it begs questioning why the line wasn’t reunited sooner.

But only 11 players returned from last season, and with turnover comes new line combinations, especially from Sims, who likes to tinker.

When the Komets lost seven in a row, though, Sims decided to act.

“It was obviously always in the back of his head. ‘I know I can get these guys going,’ ” Drouin said. “He knew we’d be reliable and what he would get from us.”

Thomas led the Komets in scoring with 11 goals and 20 points heading into Friday, while O’Connor had four goals and 16 points, and Drouin had three goals and 16 points.

“I think our (recent play) is just from playing together the last two years. (Sims) has seen what we can do and put us back together. We just have a good feel for each other,” Thomas said.

“We’ve had guys coming in all the time and been switching up the lines a lot, but it’s a good thing we’re back together now. You see it in practice with us three. It’s just natural. We know each other really well, and it just works.”

jcohn@jg.net

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