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Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette
The Komets’ Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock, right, and Colin Chaulk celebrate Jesse Bennefield’s goal against Dayton’s Bryan Hogan in the second period Sunday at the Memorial Coliseum.

Komets claw back to take over 1st place

Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette
The Komets’ Jamie Milam takes a shot at Dayton’s goal in the second period Sunday.

Down a goal with just more than four minutes remaining Sunday night, the Komets did what they’ve done more than anyone this season – they found a way to win.

Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock forced overtime by camping out in front of the Dayton Gems’ net, powering his way to the rebound of a Tom Mele shot and slipping it into an open net.

And Bobby Chaumont won it 2:27 into overtime by accepting Brett Smith’s pass from behind the net and putting it past goaltender Bryan Hogan for the 4-3 victory at Memorial Coliseum.

“We’ve talked about the character of this team … and it just surfaced again. We knew that game would give us first place overall at the all-star break,” said Komets coach Al Sims, whose team leapfrogged Wichita by a point. “It was in our hands to do it and our guys wouldn’t be denied. You can’t say enough about the effort on the last two goals.”

At this time last year, the Komets were the worst team in the CHL.

The Komets (22-9-1) had several good scoring chances in overtime Sunday, including one in which Jesse Bennefield shot the puck off Hogan and Colin Chaulk kicked it onto the goal line but not over.

“I said to Chaulker, ‘Why didn’t you head it in?’ ” Sims said. “They had his stick tied up, but he tried to kick it in. Then Smitty and Chaumont made an unbelievable play. I think everybody in the rink heard Chaumont yelling to Smitty that he was coming, and he had a step on the guy.

“It was almost like Dayton was playing for the shootout and didn’t want to go on offense at all in the 4-on-4 overtime. And we had all kinds of opportunities.”

It was the third game in as many days between the Komets and Gems (12-15-6). Dayton won 3-2 Friday at the Coliseum, and the Komets won 4-2 at Hara Arena on Saturday.

“After playing so many games in so many nights, everybody was tired,” Chaumont said. “Just to get that goal and those extra points. … it’s a great character win for team.”

The Komets outshot the Gems 129-82 in the series, getting three goals from Schrock, who had only two in the first 29 games.

“You can’t say enough about him because he’s really been struggling and questioning himself, especially his scoring,” Sims said, “because he had 20 goals his first year to (15) last year to this year. It’s just great to see a kid who works as hard as him, and does the other things for you, to be rewarded with some goals.”

The Komets also got goals from Bennefield and Frankie DeAngelis (power play), while the Gems’ goals came from Nick Fanto, Tim Hartung (power play) and Brett Lutes.

Gerry Festa, who made his debut for the Komets, stopped 28 of 31 shots. Hogan stopped 32 of 36, in front of 7,515 fans.

Notes: Komets goalie Alex Kangas doesn’t have any sort of tear in his injured hip, only a strain, general manager David Franke said. He’s expected to be out a few weeks, at which point they may have to decide between keeping him or Festa. … Smith and goalie Nick Boucher will play in the All-Star Game on Wednesday at Prescott Valley, Ariz.