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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.

Auger leads K's to win

He has a hat trick, fight against Wings

Chris Auger had a hat trick. And he threw in a fight at the end for good measure, as the Komets defeated the Kalamazoo Wings 5-2 at Memorial Coliseum on Sunday.

The Komets (21-14-10) are 6-1-2 in their last nine games.

"It was always my goal to be the player I was before I got hurt," said Auger, who missed almost all of last season with a knee injury but now has 22 goals and 38 points in 44 games this season. "I've been blessed to be playing with some pretty good linemates this year with Scott Fleming, 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."

(Click here to see photos from the game.)

The Wings (26-17-4) came into the game having gone scoreless on all 24 of their power plays this season 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 over a falling Binnington.

Auger scored again, 8:23 into the third period, with a shot from the left circle during a power play.

After coming into Saturday's 3-2 victory at Cincinnati with only four power-play goals over 42 opportunities, the Komets have been much improved with the man-advantage. They are 3 for 10 in their last two games.

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 had one 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 their power-play goal from left wing Yannick Veilleux at 16:24 – the Wings were 1 for 4 in the game – and Fort Wayne forward Christian Ouellet answered less than a minute later.

Auger fought Wesley Myron with 12 seconds remaining in the game.

"Everyone has to answer the bell at some point," Auger said of the fight. "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."

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

In the season series, the Komets are 3-2-3 against the Wings.

"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."

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. ... Click here to check out our coverage of local sled hockey and the video.

Justin A. Cohn, pro sports coordinator for The Journal Gazette, has been covering the Fort Wayne Komets since 1997. His reporting includes game stories from home and away, features about the players and personalities associated with the Komets, plus coverage of issues affecting hockey at all levels. A native of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Cohn graduated from Emory University in Atlanta. He can be reached at 260-461-8429 or by email at jcohn@jg.net.

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