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The Journal Gazette

  • Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette Komets forward Marc-Olivier Roy, right, reaches to try and steal the puck from the Adirondack Thunder's Ty Loney at Memorial Coliseum on Friday night. 

  • Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette Komets goaltender Michael Houser tries to keep the Adirondack Thunder’s James Henry, right from scoring as Fort Wayne defenseman Bobby Shea looks on Friday night.

Saturday, November 04, 2017 1:00 am

Adirondack 4 Komets 2

Komets offense needs more grit

Coach, captain call for more dirty work as scoring falls off

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

Komets vs. Quad City

When: 7:30 p.m. today

Radio: 1190 AM, 107.5 FM

When the Komets' players go to the Memorial Coliseum locker room tonight to ready for their game against the Quad City Mallards, they can be sure they'll hear coach Gary Graham pull out some hockey clichés like “pay the price,” “go to the hard areas” and “get grittier,” because the offense hasn't been getting the job done.

The Komets have scored two goals in three consecutive games, all losses including the 4-2 loss Friday night to the Adirondack Thunder, and the thing that looked strongest coming into the season – offense – is the biggest question mark.

“Teams know we have a lot of offensive firepower, and they defend accordingly,” said Graham, whose Komets (2-2-1) have sagged since opening the season with a 4-2 victory over Toledo and an 8-2 victory over Kansas City.

“What we need to understand as a team is that we have to start playing an uglier offensive game. Everybody has to buy into that mentality in order to generate more offense. That's where we're struggling right now. When we're scoring goals, everybody is confident. The well has gone dry right now, and we've just got to find a way to get back on the right side of it, especially offensively.”

Jamie Schaafsma put the Komets up 1-0 in front of 7,071 fans by skating out of the right corner, sending a shot off the right leg of goaltender Nick Riopel and sweeping in the rebound. Artur Tyanulin was the only other Fort Wayne player to score, putting in the rebound of a Jason Binkley shot to cut Adirondack's lead to 3-2 at 18:47 of the second period.

The Komets had chances to tie it in the third period, when Schaafsma was hauled down by Mike Bergin and awarded a penalty shot at 1:30 by referee Liam Sewell. Schaafsma got a solid backhand shot on Riopel, but he made one of his 29 saves.

Fort Wayne's Michael Houser was again reliable with 28 saves, including a stop of Ty Loney on a 2-on-1 rush. But Terrence Wallin's goal, after a Fort Wayne turnover set up an odd-man rush, completed the scoring for Adirondack (4-3-1).

“We were really buzzing there in the third period, and it was a one-goal game, and we have one slight hiccup and that led to a 2-on-1 and that was the ball game. Guys are pressing for offense and that's sometimes what happens,” said Graham.

Schaafsma, the captain, called for the Komets to get “grittier, simplify, get pucks to the net, play harder in the corners. I'd like to see our compete level get harder out there. But we don't want to point fingers. We're all on the same page about turning things around.”

He commended the play of the goalies, Houser and Garrett Bartus, the penalty-killing units that have stopped 18 of 20 opposing power plays, and said the Komets' offense has been good on the rush. But Schaafsma and Graham would like to see more sustained pressure offensively.

“We can get more traffic to the net, that would help. Get more bodies to the net and try to play a faster game. There's always a lot of things you can do when you're struggling to find offense,” Schaafsma said. “You have to put your nose to the grindstone, as they say, and just get greasier around the net.”

jcohn@jg.net