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Komets close exhibition slate with win

The Komets' final preseason tune-up was a good one.

They defeated the Wheeling Nailers 6-2 Saturday night in front of 5,477 fans at Memorial Coliseum.

John Dunbar and Mickey Lang paced the Komets with two goals apiece, as they finished the exhibition slate 2-1-0 with both victories coming against the Nailers.

The Komets' 62nd regular season opens next Saturday at the Coliseum against the Toledo Walleye.

As most of the Coliseum was focused on the aftermath of a hit by Fort Wayne's Nik Pokulok about 90 feet away, the Komets scored at 4:32 into the first period. An odd-man rush that saw Dunbar and Tristan King passing the puck back and forth culminated with a Dunbar goal and a 1-0 lead.

With the Komets short-handed at 13:33, they went up 2-0 on a Chris Auger goal. The Komets had dumped the puck into the Wheeling zone and Scott Fleming won a race for it, then circled the net and sent a pass in front to Auger for his third goal of the preseason.

The second period was thoroughly dominating for the Komets, who got another goal from Dunbar – he caromed the puck off the back of goalie Mike Condon's leg and into the net for a 3-0 lead at 2:55.

Back-to-back goals from Lang – one just after a power play ended, the other during a power play -- gave Fort Wayne a 5-0 lead.

The most exciting portion of the period came when Fort Wayne goaltender John Muse stopped forward Jack MacLellan on a breakaway, which was quickly followed by a fight between Fort Wayne's Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock and Wheeling's Patrick McGrath.

The Nailers fought back with goals from Max MacKay in the second period and MacLellan on a power play in the third, when there was a fight between Fort Wayne's Nick Tuzzolino and Wheeling's Ryley Miller.

Muse stopped 22 shots, including a brilliant diving stop on Nicholas Kuqali's shot at an empty net at 13:00.

Fort Wayne's Matthew Larke made it 6-2 on a power-play goal at 16:10.

Notes: The Komets played without forwards Mike Vaskivuo, Jake Hauswirth, Matt Firman, Darick Ste. Marie and Keegan Flaherty, defensemen Kyle Follmer (groin) and William Lacasse, plus goalie Max Strang. … Goalie Larkin Saalfrank, a native of Fort Wayne, was released.

For more on this game, read Sunday's Journal Gazette or return to www.journalgazette.net after 3 a.m.

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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