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Rain can't wash away another Komets' home loss

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Fort Wayne is 9-11 at home this season

Sunday, January 13, 2013 - 12:01 am

Of course it was raining as Komets fans walked outside the Memorial Coliseum after Saturday night's game. It was falling so fast, Noah would have looked over his shoulder before starting to hammer a little harder. It was the type of rain we begged for all summer and never felt a drop of.

But last night it was the perfect smack across the head at the end of a lousy evening. Make that ``another'' lousy evening because the Komets lost at home again. Despite leading 2-1 going into the third period, the Komets fell to Cincinnati 5-2 to crawl back five points behind the Cyclones for the ECHL's North Division lead.

If the Komets were two games over .500 at home instead of two games under at 9-11 they'd already be in first place. Instead, they are 5-10 at home against division rivals Cincinnati, Toledo, Evansville and Kalamazoo, including 0-6 against Cincinnati and Toledo. The Komets have won back-to-back home games only twice this season and never three in a row.

Considering they have the league's fifth-best road record at 11-6-2, including 8-3-1 against division foes, the home record makes about as much sense as 60-degree rain in January.

Saturday night's game was already atypical enough considering some of the players were still introducing themselves during warm-ups. The Komets called up forwards John Dunbar and Ron Cramer from Pensacola of the Southern Professional Hockey League, but because of traveling problems they didn't arrive until 5:30 p.m. Cramer's equipment still hasn't arrived, but he's lucky Dunbar packed two pairs of skates and they both wear Size 7.

Fort Wayne also lost defenseman Ryan Hegarty and forward Matt Kennedy and Garrett Klotz to Norfolk of the American Hockey League before the game. After winning in Cincinnati 2-1 on Friday night, Komets goaltender Kenny Reiter also missed the game with the flu.

The Komets were playing six players who weren't part of the team until Friday. They now have 13 players who weigh under 200 pounds, including eight who are shorter than 6-feet.

Coach Al Sims mixed up his lines and defensive pairings, and it worked most of the game. The Cyclones didn't have their 10th shot on goal until there were nine minutes gone into the second period. The kids skated hard, hustled and weren't afraid to play the body, though sometimes they were the ones bouncing backward.

The problem was Cincinnati goaltender Michael Houser made 45 saves. None of them were too spectacular as the Komets helped with that by continually trying to drill the puck through his belly pad. Houser kept smothering everything, not allowing many second chances.

Houser made sure the bounces didn't go the Komets' way, allowing his offense to be opportunistic. The game-winning goal from Cincinnati's Mike Pelech was actually a pass from the boards. Fort Wayne defenseman Scott Kishel deflected the pass initially, and then it bounced in off the skates of defensive partner Tyler Butler in front of the net.

It got worse from there. Even the empty-net goal by Cincinnati's Grant Wilson with 15 seconds left was a bit of a fluke. A Komets forward hustled the length of the ice to save a goal, but as he turned and fired from the crease, the puck hit Wilson's stick and bounced right into the net.

``I think we were unlucky,'' Komets coach Al Sims said. ``Their goals were not what you would call great goals... we were a little bit unlucky. We had no luck around their net at all, no bounces, no nothing, but the team generated 47 shots. You can't say the effort wasn't there.''

The effort was there, and, hey, at least the rain felt warm on the way out of the building, right?

The Komets better hope the weather and their outcomes at home change in a hurry.

This column is the commentary of the writer and does not reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Blake Sebring at .