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K’s look forward to getting away

– Sometimes a change of scenery, and being around one another on the road, can help a hockey team.

The Komets are hoping that playing in Georgia and Florida for the next five games will turn them around.

Their 4-2 loss Saturday night to the Toledo Walleye at Memorial Coliseum was the Komets’ fifth loss in six games, dropping them to 8-7-1 in their first ECHL season.

They play at Gwinnett (Ga.) on Wednesday and Friday, then play at Orlando (Fla.) on Dec. 7, 8 and 9.

“I think it’s going to be good for us to maybe fix some of the stuff that’s going on,” said rookie forward Matt Firman, who had both Fort Wayne goals against the Walleye.

“The second two periods (Saturday) were better for us. We’ve just got to get back to working hard and playing as one unit.”

Coach Al Sims has defended the effort of his players during the recent slump, while also criticizing their penchant for penalties, and he doesn’t think the woes will be fixed by anything but improved health.

For weeks, the Komets have been without forwards Chris Auger (knee), Eric Giosa (ankle) and Matt Kennedy (leg), goaltender Marco Cousineau (groin), and defensemen Ryan Hegarty (hand) and Nick Schaus (called up to Norfolk of the American Hockey League).

Add to that the game misconduct that defenseman Daniel Maggio got less than two minutes into Saturday’s game – he illegally removed his elbow pad before a fight – and the Komets faced an uphill battle against the Walleye (10-7-1).

“I thought we played well,” Sims said. “We pursued the puck and tried to get it to the net, but it just wasn’t enough.”

The Komets are 1-1-0 against Gwinnett this season, but they haven’t met since Charlie Effinger’s 43-save shutout at the Coliseum on Oct. 27.

“We need to get healthy,” Sims said. “This (slump) has nothing to do with anything else. We’re short players right now. And when we get a guy kicked out, that just hurts even more.”

The good news is that Hegarty, who is scoreless in seven games this season, could return Wednesday. He hasn’t played since Nov. 2.

“He’s got to get X-rayed (today) and get the cast off, but I think he’s ready to go and that will help our defense,” Sims said.