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Komets captain shaking early struggles


– It seems that Komets center Colin Chaulk is finally coming around. Heading into Saturday night’s annual New Year’s Eve game, he had six goals and 13 points in the last nine games, seven of which were victories for Turner Conference-leading Fort Wayne.

“Yeah, for sure (I feel I am coming around),” said Chaulk, the Komets captain and five-time team MVP.

“Personally, my start wasn’t acceptable for me, the team or anybody. Even right now, it’s been better, but I still can do more. But I feel like it’s coming.

“Well, it better be coming.”

Chaulk, 34, entered the season with 601 points – fifth most in franchise history – in 500 regular-season games. But in the first 16 games this season, he had four goals, 13 points and an even plus-minus rating, as newcomers Brett Smith and Bobby Chaumont carried the scoring load.

For a player who has guided the Komets to four playoff championships in eight seasons, it was tough to swallow – even if he’s always been a slow starter.

“When you get off to a tough start, you start pressing,” Chaulk said. “You start maybe making passes when you should shoot the puck, or shoot when you should pass, all kinds of stuff. You make the wrong split-second decisions. I was doing that a little bit.

“Also, I was making nice plays at times and they weren’t converting. It was a combination of things.”

The Komets have won 14 of 17 games and moved to the top of the Turner Conference with a 19-7-1 record before Saturday’s game against the Bloomington Blaze.

Chaulk had developed a rapport with Jesse Bennefield as the linemates had combined for five goals and 16 points over the last seven games.

“Chaulker is getting to the net … and when he gets to the net, he’s pretty dangerous,” said Komets coach Al Sims, whose team finished a string of four games in five nights.

“(Chaulk) is still not shooting enough for me on the power play, but that’s Chaulker. He loves to pass. But the goals are starting to come with Bennefield. He’s reading off Bennefield, and they’ve got some chemistry going so far.”

With so many newcomers scoring this season – including Chris Auger, Jean-Michel Rizk, Jamie Milam and Stephen Thorne – there hasn’t been as much pressure on Chaulk to produce.

“(Early on), I probably wasn’t moving my feet and finishing my checks, playing dirty and ugly, and I’ve gotten back to that,” Chaulk said.

“I think it’s just a common denominator with me, having slow starts. We’ll go with that.”