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vs. Bloomington
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday
Radio: 1190 AM

New center helping carry the load for Komets


When the Komets signed center Brett Smith, it was to take the pressure off Colin Chaulk as a scorer and a leader.

It has certainly worked out so far.

Coach Al Sims isn’t concerned with Chaulk’s slow start – he has three goals and seven points in 11 games – because Smith might be the hottest player in the CHL right now.

Smith, who captained Bossier-Shreveport to the CHL title last season, has six goals, 17 points and is on a 10-game point-scoring streak.

“You see his effort out there,” Sims said. “For a small guy (5-foot-8, 180 pounds), he just gives 120 percent. He doesn’t know how to give anything less. He’s a leader and we’ve needed offense from him this year, as Chaulker has gotten off to a bit of a slow start. (Chaulk) is coming on, but Smitty has really taken the bull by the horns and said, ‘I’ll score if you need me to.’ ”

The Komets (6-5-0) have won 3 of 4 games heading into Thursday’s annual Thanksgiving Day game against the Bloomington Blaze (1-8-2) at Memorial Coliseum.

“I definitely want to step up and contribute to everything that goes on in this locker room and on that ice,” Smith said.

The 30-year-old has spent the season on a line with Bobby Chaumont, who is tied for the team’s scoring lead with 17 points, including two goals.

And they’ve even been on a line with Chaulk at times.

Chaulk, who has 160 goals and 601 points in 500 games with the Komets, is seventh in scoring this season. But he hasn’t needed to carry the Komets because they now have two No. 1 centers.

“Chaulk is a good player,” Smith said. “All of us have been in places where we’re not getting the points we want to, but he’s out there working hard. Maybe things aren’t going his way, but that’s going to change. Things always change.”

Sims pointed out that Chaulk, a 34-year-old five-time team MVP, is regularly a slow starter. And he hasn’t gotten help from his linemates at times this season. He’s also one of the CHL’s premier defensive forwards, having to mark top lines of opposing teams.

“I think Chaulker is going to come on,” Sims said. “He’s a second-half player and playoff player. The good thing about Chaulker is he’s creating opportunities. … We’re just not finishing for him. But he’s not shooting enough.”

Chaulk has 19 shots, tied for ninth on the team. Smith has 25 shots – sixth most – but has converted on 24 percent of them.

“Smith is a guy who can play a lot of roles,” Sims said. “He can play wing or center … and he’s done everything we’ve asked. He’s a great penalty killer. He just brings so much to the table.”

NOTE: The Komets have been searching for a better option as their backup goaltender since early in training camp, and they found it Monday, signing rookie Alex Kangas, a three-year starter at the University of Minnesota. He was limited to nine games last season because of a hip injury, but the Komets pursued him in the summer before he went to training camp with Wilkes Barre-Scranton of the American Hockey League and then Wheeling of the ECHL. The Komets released Kevin Beech, who was 0-2-0 with a 4.31 goals-against average and a .788 save percentage in two games behind Nick Boucher.