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Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
The Komets have gone 3-1 since Jesse Bennefield rejoined the team after missing 14 games with a leg injury.

A feel-good Komets story

Left wing Jesse Bennefield, who missed 14 games because of an infection in his leg and returned to the Komets’ lineup Dec. 11, feels well on the ice.

“It’s good,” he said. “It’s sore, at times, but … after a month off, I’m starting to get my speed back and my wind back, so it feels pretty good.”

And he’s playing well, too, with four assists as the Komets have gone 3-1-0 since his return. The Komets (15-7-0) leapfrogged Evansville and have a two-point lead in the Turner Conference.

The line of Bennefield, Colin Chaulk and Chris Auger has accounted for five goals and 16 points in the four games.

“We’re really starting to jell and it’s nice,” Bennefield said. “It took a few games, just being out so long, but we’re getting going and we have a connection now. It feels good.”

Auger, who was concussed by an elbow from Evansville’s Karl Linden in Saturday’s 7-4 Komets victory, won’t be in the lineup Wednesday at Memorial Coliseum against Texas (12-8-5). The CHL reviewed the play and determined no further punishment was necessary for Linden, who got a major penalty and a game misconduct.

In Auger’s absence, Bennefield, who was one of the Komets’ biggest offseason acquisitions, will have to help pick up the scoring slack.

“There are going to be games where I score goals. And there are going to be games where, if the play’s not there, I look for my linemates,” said Bennefield, 30, who was picked up from Wichita in exchange for defenseman Craig Cescon, now with Bloomington.

“I’m not worried. If I score goals or if it’s a goal or assist, it’s a team effort. I just want to play my game, use my speed and jump through the holes.”

Bennefield has one goal and seven points in eight games with the Komets. The leg was bothering him at the start of training camp and he had to have surgery to rectify it. The Komets are leery of infections after Chaulk missed 35 games in 2008-09 with a MRSA staph infection

“It was an infection at some point, but I can’t say really what kind of infection it was – I’m not too sure – but it’s gone now and it feels good,” Bennefield said.

Komets coach Al Sims said Bennefield is more worried about his lack of goal scoring than he’s let on, but Sims is confident he’ll find the net soon.

“He’s a guy that’s getting more confident,” Sims said. “Benny’s the type of guy that worries about (scoring), but I said, ‘It’s going to come. Just, you know, give yourself a chance and if you stay confident and are playing well, you’ll get opportunities.’ (Saturday), he made three great plays.”

He set up Chaulk with one of the prettiest sequences of the season, circling the net, sending a pass through the goal crease and getting the Komets’ captain a shot at a wide-open net.

“It’s supposed to be the other way around, Chaulker getting Bennefield the goals,” Sims said. “But if that’s the way it goes, fine. As long as one of them is scoring, it’s a good thing.”

jcohn@jg.net

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