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Komets continue to burn

Highlights of the Komets 5-2 victory over the Kalamazoo Wings at Memorial Coliseum on Feb. 9, 2014.

Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette
The Komets’ Dean Ouellet tries to get to the puck after he deflected it past Kalamazoo goalie Jordan Binnington. The puck slid wide of the goal.

Auger caps hat trick with fight as Komets pummel Wings

As if a hat trick wasn’t enough – and it was to lead the Komets to a 5-2 victory over the Kalamazoo Wings – Chris Auger also dropped the gloves to fight Wesley Myron in the waning seconds of the game Sunday at Memorial Coliseum.

“Everyone has to answer the bell at some point,” Auger said of the fight, after the Komets (21-14-10) improved to 6-1-2 over their recent surge. “He speared me and, I slashed him pretty good right after. It just kind of escalated from there. It’s obviously not my forte, but I held my own, I guess.”

Time and time again this season, Auger has risen to the occasion. After missing all but four games of 2012-13 with a knee injury, Auger has 22 goals and 38 points in 44 games this season.

“It was always my goal to be the player I was before I got hurt,” said Auger, who helped the Komets to the CHL title in 2012, when he had 28 goals and 59 points in 57 games.

“I’ve been blessed to be playing with some pretty good linemates this year with Scott Fleming (before he was called up), Brandon Marino and now Dean Ouellet. So it’s been great. You’re only as good as the people who surround you and I’ve been fortunate.”

The Komets (21-14-10) improved to 3-2-3 this season against the Wings (26-17-4) and pulled into sixth place in the Eastern Conference. The top eight teams will make the playoffs, and the Komets have 27 games left in the regular season.

“When Kalamazoo and us play, it’s exciting,” Fort Wayne coach Gary Graham said. “It’s tight hockey, and it’s a chess match. I really enjoy playing them because there are constant adjustments from coaching staff to coaching staff. It’s fun, and I know our guys enjoy playing them.”

The Wings came into Sunday scoreless on all 24 of their power plays against the Komets, but they found a way to get a special-teams goal when Justin Taylor scored on a breakaway with his team short-handed 12:22 into the first period.

Auger tied it 1:05 later with a wrist shot from the left circle that sailed high on goaltender Jordan Binnington in front of 6,643 fans.

Forward Matt Carter put the Komets ahead 2-1 at 14:36 of the second period, by steering through defenders Dustin Cloutier and Brett Ponich and lifting a backhand shot into the net from a difficult angle. And Auger made it 3-1 with a shot from the left circle, during a power play, at 8:23 of the third period.

Despite coming into Saturday’s 3-2 victory at Cincinnati with only four goals in their previous 42 power plays, the Komets have been much improved and scored three goals in their last 10 opportunities with the man-advantage.

Auger finished off his hat trick at 13:30, getting a rebound, spinning and sending a shot underneath Binnington for a 4-1 lead. It was the Komets’ first hat trick since Mickey Lang’s Nov. 23 at Evansville; the first for a Fort Wayne player at the Coliseum since Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock on March 16, 2013, against Greenville.

The Wings finally got a power-play goal from left wing Yannick Veilleux at 16:24 – the Wings were 1 for 4 in the game – and Fort Wayne’s Christian Ouellet answered less than a minute later.

Andrey Makarov stopped 27 of 29 shots for Fort Wayne. Binnington stopped 22 of 27.

Notes: The Komets played without forward Jason Dale (groin) and defenseman Simon Danis-Pepin (shoulder/arm). … Dean Ouellet has tallied at least a point in nine of his last 10 games with Fort Wayne and San Francisco. … In his debut with South Carolina, former Komets goalie Max Strang stopped 39 of 42 shots in a 4-3 loss to Greenville in an overtime shootout.