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  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Komets' Mike Embach, right, and Brampton's Willie Corrin fight for the puck during the first period of the Komets vs. Brampton hockey game at Memorial Coliseum on Friday. GALLERY

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Komets' Curtis Leonard, left, and Brampton's Chris Leveille chase after the puck during the first period of the Komets vs. Brampton hockey game at Memorial Coliseum on Friday. GALLERY

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Komets' Kyle Thomas, right, steers the puck and tries to push Brampton's David Pacan away from him during the first period of the Komets vs. Brampton hockey game at Memorial Coliseum on Friday. GALLERY  

Friday, December 23, 2016 9:01 pm

Analyzing Komets' awful night

Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette

Here’s the crux of what the Komets believe happened tonight in their dreadful 6-1 loss to the Brampton Beast: They came in with a game plan and, even when it wasn’t working, they just kept trying the same things over and over again.

In other words, they failed to adjust. That’s on everyone.

“I think our inability to be flexible in the game plan really hurt us. We kept trying to do the same things that weren’t working,” coach Gary Graham said. “For whatever reason, the mental side of the game was really frustrating tonight.”

It’s easy to think that maybe the players were looking ahead to having three days off for Christmas break. Heck, they’re lucky they are off. I can’t even imagine what practice would be like after that performance.

They will only be on the ice once – the pre-game skate – before playing the Indy Fuel at Memorial Coliseum on Tuesday.

The Komets aren’t a team that makes excuses much, and they didn’t tonight. While I don’t think it had much to do with the performance, it’s worth mentioning who they were missing: Garrett Thompson (lower body), Will Weber (groin), Cody Sol (knee), Gabriel Beaupre (concussion), Taylor Crunk (ankle), Pat Nagle (ankle) and Trevor Cheek (in American Hockey League.)

That caused them to play with five defensemen for a second straight game. However, Brampton was playing on back-to-back nights and was missing key players, too: Mike Vernace, Jeremie Blain and Justin Baker.

“Our message tonight was patience. We are playing on back-to-back nights, and were traveling from Indianapolis last night, and we needed to be patient. We were trying to design on counter attacks and it worked tonight,” said Brampton coach Colin Chaulk, whose is now 4-2-0 (2-0-0 this season) against his former team.

Is there any question that he’s the leading early candidate for Coach of the Year?

Led by goals from Brandon Marino, Chris Auger, Chris Leveille, Willie Corinn, David Vallorani and Brandon MacLean, the Beast outshot the Komets 38-12, not allowing Fort Wayne to tally a single shot on goal in the first 7 minutes of the first period or the first 16 of the third.

The Komets’ previous low for shots on goal this season was 18. The two shots they had in the third tied the season mark for fewest in a period. And this was only the second time in 13 home games that the Komets were outshot at home.

To me, it seemed as if there was a tremendous lack of hustle and an inability to solve the Beast’s trap. There were some spurts of promise, like when they tied it on Mike Embach’s goal, but they couldn’t sustain it.

Because of the injuries, the Komets are playing with a lot of guys who are having to shoulder more responsibility than they’re probably able to. Let’s not forget how many of these players were brought in once the season began.

I don’t think anything that happened tonight was Garrett Bartus’ fault. In fact, if you consider his two saves on an early 2-on-1 rush, it could have been worse. And this is the second game in which Bartus has been hung out to dry by his teammates.

It might have helped Eric Hartzell, in actuality, because he played well after coming in late in the first period. The Komets are eventually going to have to make a decision between the two.

I’m sure the priority for Graham over the next few days is to work the phones and find a couple defensemen. You can’t expect them to be without Will Weber, Gabriel Beaupre and Cody Sol and have it not impact them.

jcohn@jg.net