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K's squander yet another chance

The Komets could have clinched a playoff berth tonight, thanks to Quad City's loss.

Instead, the Komets lost a two-goal lead, lost their composure and lost 4-3 in overtime to the Laredo Bucks.

Fort Wayne can clinch a playoff spot if it gets a point Saturday against the Bucks at Memorial Coliseum, but it missed a golden opportunity to pull even with the Evansville IceMen, who came into the night with a two-point lead over the Komets in the race for the Turner Conference title.

The IceMen lost 6-3 at Rapid City, S.D.

The winning goal from Adam Rivet at Memorial Coliseum came on a weak shot from the right circle, with captain Colin Chaulk in the penalty box for holding.

"The only way I know how to fix the problem is to get the guys together and play together as a team. Get the hard hat on and be a plumber," Chaulk said.

About the only good news of the night for Fort Wayne was that newly acquired forward Mike Vaskivuo assisted on a Chaulk goal five seconds into his first shift. After forward Jesse Bennefield made it 2-0 and Laredo's Kyle Mariani answered,Vaskivuo assisted on center Chris Auger's goal into an open net 19:33 into the first period for a 3-1 lead.

Vaskivuo took the spot of forward Artem Podshendyalov, who quit the team Thursday to return to his native Russia, after scoring 18 goals and 43 points in 58 games this season.

But after Vaskivuo's sterling debut moments, things kept getting worse for the Komets.

Defenseman Dustin Molle, who had missed the previous 30 games with a groin injury, didn't play after the first period and coach Al Sims now expects him out for the season.

Despite getting outshot 22-12 in the second and third periods, combined, the Bucks forced overtime with goals from forward Erik Boisvert.

Meanwhile, the Komets had a slew of chances, most notably a Leo Thomas breakaway that was foiled by goaltender Torrie Jung, who stopped 37 of 40 shots.

Fort Wayne's Nick Boucher stopped 19 of 23.

"It's disappointing to, again, have a lead and let it slip away," Sims said. "It just seems like we don't have the ability to finish around the net and we're finding ways to lose instead of finding ways to win. And tonight, it was taking a penalty in overtime that cost us."

The Komets are 6-2-4 in their last 12 games, but they're 0-0-4 in their last four home games. They coughed up two-goal leads in three of those games, allowing Evansville to stay on top despite its 2-6-0 record heading into Friday night.

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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