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Komets a bit faster than Mavericks

Chaulk scores a pair as team increases conference lead to 5

– The Komets and Missouri Mavericks met for only the fourth time, and the first time this season, on Thursday night at Memorial Coliseum.

It was a back-and-forth, fast-paced affair, won by the Komets 4-2 in front of 7,212 fans.

“It was a great game,” said Fort Wayne coach Al Sims, whose team won for the 13th time in 16 games, increasing its lead in the Turner Conference to five points over second-place Evansville. The Komets play the IceMen tonight at the Ford Center.

“It was a fast-paced game. It was one of the fastest games I’ve seen, standing on the bench, this year. Both teams were flying.”

Those sentiments were echoed by center Leo Thomas, who scored along with forwards Bobby Chaumont and Colin Chaulk, who scored twice.

“It was a fast game,” said Thomas, who tied it at 1 with a short-handed breakaway goal 18:16 into the first period. “That’s a good team. We expected that. But we played our game, stuck with it and came out with the win, and that’s all that matters.”

The Komets (18-7-1) shut down Sebastien Thinel, who won the scoring title last season with 110 points. He had only an assist as Missouri lost for the first time to Fort Wayne.

“For the most part, (defensemen Dustin and Bryant) Molle did a great job against Thinel’s line,” Sims said. “It was a tight game.”

Thanks to a kooky penalty for delay of game, at the end of the second period, the Komets were able to take the lead for good.

The penalty was called because a player who was on the Missouri bench at the end of the period didn’t directly go to the locker room, instead going on to the ice first.

The resulting power play set up Chaulk for his goal from the right circle 30 seconds into the third period.

Chaumont scored 14:01 later with a quick shot after snatching the puck off the left boards.

Forward Ryan Jardine answered for Missouri (12-12-3) with his second of the night, but Chaulk’s empty-netter cemented the scoring.

A day after Fort Wayne goaltender Nick Boucher was selected as a starter for the Jan. 11 All-Star Game at Prescott Valley, Ariz., Komets center Brett Smith was picked as a reserve. Smith has 12 goals and 36 points in 26 games.

Missouri goalie Gerry Festa stopped 37 of 40 shots.

“We hit him with everything, a lot of stuff. He’s a smaller guy and we needed to get (the puck) in the upper half and we didn’t (early),” Sims said.

The game marked the return of center Chris Auger to the Fort Wayne lineup, after he missed three games because of a concussion from Evansville’s Karl Linden’s elbow Dec. 17.

Notes: Defenseman David Starenky was placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. Remaining out were forward Jean-Michel Rizk (groin) and defenseman Tristin Llewellyn (shoulder). Rizk is likely to play tonight. … More than 8,000 tickets have already been sold for Saturday’s annual New Year’s Eve game, against Bloomington.

jcohn@jg.net

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