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K's don't clinch; more on Henley

TROTWOOD, Ohio -- The Komets took care of their business, defeating the Dayton Gems 2-1 in overtime, thanks to Chris Auger's goal at the end of a 2-on-1 rush.

But the Evansville IceMen too care of theirs, too, beating the Wichita Thunder 3-1.

So the Komets lead the IceMen by one point heading into the last day of the regular season, with the Turner Conference trophy up for grabs.

Fort Wayne plays its third straight game against Dayton. Evansville plays Texas.

The Komets will likely play today with only four defensemen, as they did for most of the last two periods tonight, because T.J. Miller has an apparent concussion and Brent Henley was tossed with 25 minutes in penalties and could be suspended.

Here's video of the incident, which began with Brett Lutes cross-checking Henley in the face.

I just spoke with the supervisor of officials, Dennis Hextall, who spoke with referee Peter Tarnaris. He said, depite what it says on Pointstreak, Henley got a major for kneeing, a match penalty for intent to injure and a game misconduct for spitting.

Henley is a tough customer and he loses his head, but spitting would seem very out of character for a finalist for CHL Man of the Year.

"I honestly don't remember much. I know I got cross-checked in the face and I checked to see if I had any teeth left," Henley said.

"To be honest, I don't know if I got him or somebody else (back). … But I can tell you, I would never spit on anybody."

It is interesting that no bench minors were given out to Dayton for its part in the fracas.

Komets goaltender Nick Boucher was spectacular in this game, stopping 29 shots. However, there was an open net in overtime, and Lutes missed it, before Auger and Leo Thomas took off on their 2-on-1 rush.

"It was a very physical game tonight. I didn't quite expect that out of (the Gems) tonight but it was a great test for us going into the playoffs," Auger said. "I thought we responded well tonight. We played almost the whole game with (only) four defensemen and they were outstanding. You can't say enough about them."

Coach Al Sims was ectstatic with the effort.

"This was huge," Komets coach Al Sims said. "You can't say much more about our team's character. … There were injuries both ways and guys getting elbowed and high-sticked. There's no loss of love between the two teams. And now we've got one more against them."

Attendance was announced generously at 5,002, but the atmosphere was terrific. Probably the Komets' last trip to Dayton, and it was a memorable one, for sure.

Check back later for a video recap.

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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