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K's surge ends at K-Zoo

They came in on a 4-0-3 run, but the Komets' offense sputtered in a 3-1 loss to the Kalamazoo Wings in Kalamazoo, Mich., on Jan. 15, 2014.

Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette
Kalamazoo’s Justin Taylor celebrates after teammate Eric Kattelus scores on Komets goaltender Max Strang in the second period Wednesday at Wings Coliseum. Strang made 17 saves.

Komets see opportunities slip by

Point streak snapped at 7 as goals hard to get

– The Komets had plenty of chances to score Wednesday night. They sent 29 shots on the Kalamazoo Wings net and had a slew more from close range that sailed wide.

But forward Mike Embach was the only player to find success – on Fort Wayne’s first shot of the game – and the Komets lost 3-1 in front of 1,549 fans at Wings Stadium.

The Komets had been on a 4-0-3 run before the game.

“We’ve just got to bear down,” Embach said. “The opportunities are there, and it was frustrating not to come out with the two points, especially since we’re so close to them in the standings. We’re so close to them and would have been able to jump them for sixth (place in the Eastern Conference). But we’ll get back at it Friday (against Elmira at Memorial Coliseum).”

The Komets (15-12-8) opened the scoring 1:14 into the first period, after a 60-foot Simon Danis-Pepin pass connected with Embach, who had slipped behind defenseman Brandon Martell and put a slap shot from the left circle underneath goalie Jordan Binnington, a St. Louis Blues prospect.

From there, the Komets had to rely on goaltender Max Strang, who made 17 stops in his first ECHL start.

“We’ve just got to give a goalie like that more goal support,” Komets coach Gary Graham said. “You can’t expect to win games 1-nothing.”

Strang, who was in training camp with the Komets but has spent most of the season with Bloomington of the Single-A Southern Professional Hockey League, stopped his first 11 shots Wednesday.

He was foiled at 9:32 of the second period by forward Eric Kattelus, who had only been out of the penalty box 15 seconds before he put a 13-foot shot past into the back of the net.

Strang was filling in for Andrey Makarov (head injury) and Ben Meisner, suspended one game by the ECHL for shooting the puck into the stands after giving up a goal in Sunday’s 4-2 victory over the Wings (19-13-3) at the Coliseum. The Wings went up 2-1 on defenseman Sam Ftorek’s shot from just inside the blue line at 3:40 of the third period, and 2:27 later Kattelus accepted Sirota’s pass from the right boards and tucked a backhand shot just inside the left post.

“We thought we played solid. We’ve got to know our assignments better on a couple of faceoffs; we were getting lost,” Embach said. “They are one of the few teams that have some set plays that they run in the offensive zone. We knew them on video, but we just fell asleep for a couple minutes.”

Notes: Makarov, who has missed four straight games with a head injury, has been cleared to begin working out. He’s unlikely to play Friday but could skate that morning, general manager David Franke said. … Komets captain Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock was back on the ice, after missing two games with an eye injury.