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Komets fall to Dayton

The Komets came into Friday with the CHL's top-rated offense, averaging 3.69 goals per game.

But they left Memorial Coliseum wondering what happened to it.

Dayton goaltender Larry Sterling stopped 45 of 47 shots in a 3-2 victory over the Turner Conference-leading Komets.

That proved the old adage, be careful what you wish for.

Coliseum fans had wanted nothing more than to see Sterling, whom the Komets came back against from 3-1 deficits in two IHL playoff series, including the 2008 finals.

But on Friday, he was awesome.

"Yeah, I enjoy playing against Larry and so do the fans here in Fort Wayne," said Komets captain Colin Chaulk, who exchanged words with Sterling multiple times during the game. "But he was on tonight. He was sucking up rebounds and the rebounds he was letting go, we weren't there."

However, the bigger problem, in the view of Chaulk, was that the Komets' scoring chances were plentiful but not particularly good.

"We can't be throwing the puck 2 1/2 feet above the ice, because that's above his pads and right in his breadbox," Chaulk said. "It's got to be 10, 11 inches off the ice, where there's a rebound. And anything lower than that, the (defense) can block it. But, hey, it's a lot easier said than done."

The Komets got goals from Chaulk and Artem Podshendyalov, both coming on power plays. Dayton got goals from Jonathan Ornelas, Kyle Bochek and the third-period game winner from Charlie Townsend.

During an odd-man rush, Townsend took a pass from Ornelas, faked goaltender Nick Boucher to the ice and slipped the puck inside the goalpost.

The Komets (20-9-1) play Dayton (12-13-6) three straight games in three straight days, continuing Saturday.

It could get interesting, considering there was a 10-player scrum at the final buzzer Friday. That was precipitated by a faceoff whack session between Fort Wayne's Brett Smith and Dayton's Greg Labenski.

Still, all the Komets were thinking about were the total of four goals they had put up in their last two games, both losses, after winning five in a row and seven of the last eight.

"I don't know if scoring is a concern," Chaulk said. "But I don't think we can't be firing shots from the perimeter, just one-and-done all night. We have to be sending guys to the net. I'm a guy that passes up opportunities to shoot all the time, which is obviously a bad habit, but when you shoot the puck you have to make good shot selection. If you're just throwing in pucks from outside the blue line and the goalie is just playing bat-catcher, that's giving him confidence and that's not good."

Justin A. Cohn, pro sports coordinator for The Journal Gazette, has been covering the Fort Wayne Komets since 1997. His reporting includes game stories from home and away, features about the players and personalities associated with the Komets, plus coverage of issues affecting hockey at all levels. A native of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Cohn graduated from Emory University in Atlanta. He can be reached at 260-461-8429 or by email at jcohn@jg.net.

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