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K’s get new help but the same result

Dupuis, O’Connor finally score, but team loses another late lead

Laura J. Gardner | The Journal Gazette
The Komets’ Mathieu Curadeau battles Bloomington’s Jason Dale, left, and Chris Cloud.

– Goals had been scarce for Komets defenseman Guy Dupuis and teammate Sean O’Connor, a right wing.

That changed Saturday night, as they totaled three, but it was for naught in a 4-3 loss to the Bloomington PrairieThunder, in front of 8,247 fans at the Coliseum.

Bloomington forward Garrett Klotz scored from 45 feet out at 18:14 of the third period completing a comeback from a goal down.

Fort Wayne (13-18-5) has blown four of the 11 games this season that it has led entering the third period.

“It’s ridiculous,” center Colin Chaulk said. “We talked about it in the intermission. ‘When we’re leading after two periods, the game has to be over. Over. Done. Finished.’ Then we come out on the first shift and give up a goal (to Dale). The bottom line is, it can’t happen.”

The Komets had been winning; they were on an 8-2-4 run heading into Saturday.

“There’s no excuse,” said coach Al Sims, whose Komets are 7-9-3 at Memorial Coliseum. “We had a chance to get a point, and points are huge right now, and we let it slip away.”

Sims said there should be an announcement Monday on the possible return from retirement of 42-year-old left wing Konstantin Shafranov.

Dupuis, 40, came into Saturday with only four in 35 games, but he netted a pair of power-play goals – one off a rebound, the other after he faked a shot and steered around defenseman Alan Mazur – and it was tied at 2 in the waning seconds of the second period.

That’s when O’Connor, 23, redirected defenseman Craig Cescon’s blue-line shot into the bottom of the net for a 3-2 lead.

It was O’Connor’s fifth goal of the season, in his 33rd game, after he totaled 47 over the previous two seasons.

But the PrairieThunder (21-13-2) answered 35 seconds into the third period, when Dale circled the net, found an open space in the slot and fired the puck above goaltender Kevin Reiter.

The Komet split this home-and-home series with Bloomington, and endured some difficult circumstances. Their bus broke down Friday on the way to Bloomington, Ill., and that game was delayed by two hours as the team sat in the cold and waited.

The Friday game started two hours late, culminated with a 3-2 Fort Wayne victory in an overtime shootout, and the Komets didn’t get home until 6 a.m. Saturday.

Notes: Radio broadcaster Bob Chase got a standing ovation on his 85th birthday. He’s in his 58th season calling the Komets’ games. … The referee was Colin Kronforst. … The Komets played without Leo Thomas (ankle), Brandon Warner (shoulder), Chris Francis (called to Springfield) and Neil Musselwhite (leg).