FORT WAYNE – For only the third time since 1997 – that’s five championships and four leagues ago – the Komets have lost five games in a row.
And it’s fair to say that frustration has set in for coach Al Sims, whose 26-26-2 team has totaled eight goals over the last five games and fallen to 10th place in the Eastern Conference, six points out of the eighth and final playoff spot with 18 games remaining.
I’ve got no answers for you guys, Sims said, after Sunday’s 6-3 loss at Toledo, where the Komets’ inability to finish easy scoring chances set up the Walleye for three goals on four shots in the third period to take control.
The good news is that captain Colin Chaulk looked solid the last two games, after returning from injuries to his shoulder and foot that kept him out 32 games, and he’ll be closer to 100 percent when the Komets play host to North Division-leading Cincinnati (31-16-6) on Friday at Memorial Coliseum.
According to Sims, the return of Chaulk has given the Komets their strongest three forward lines of the season so far: Chaulk, Matt Syroczynski and Brandon Marino; Brett Smith, Thomas Beauregard and Eric Giosa; and Jean-Michel Rizk, Matt Firman and Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock.
We have three solid lines, and they create a lot of opportunities. We have three lines that can do a lot of damage, similar to last year, but maybe it will take a few games to get it going, Sims said.
The problem has been capitalizing on those opportunities; in the five-game losing streak, the Komets have scored on 8 of 138 shots.
Guys are frustrated, I’m sure, said Chaulk, who has led the Komets to five championships since 2003 and is one point short of 1,000 in the regular season for his career.
When you’re going through a tough spell, it usually gets worse before it gets better. Everybody in this room has to understand it will take a lot to get a win. And once you do, you’ll start winning games that you shouldn’t win. It’s just sports and you stay the course and keep working hard.
The Komets, who are in their first ECHL season, believe they have talent. It’s a matter of working hard enough to bury their scoring chances.
At Toledo, Giosa and Syroczynski missed an open net, while Schrock didn’t get a shot on goal at the end of a 2-on-0 rush.
We’ve got work through it, Syroczynski said. That’s the only way to get out of slumps – keep working.
Notes: The NHL’s Anaheim Ducks assigned goaltender Jeff Deslauriers, 28, to the Komets. He has played in 62 NHL games with Anaheim and Edmonton, going 23-32-4 with a 3.24 goals-against average and a .901 save percentage. This season, he’s 1-1-0 with Norfolk of the American Hockey League.
He takes the spot of Marco Cousineau, who has a groin injury. Deslauriers had been with Anaheim but didn’t get into a game.
Fans can save $2 off upper-arena tickets at the next three home games with a food donation for the Community Harvest Food Bank.