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vs. Quad City
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday
Radio: 1190 AM

Komets searching for answers for scoring slump

The Komets’ Al Sims has been a head coach for 20 seasons at various levels of hockey – including a season as coach of the NHL’s San Jose Sharks – but he’s never had to deal with a slump like this.

“No, never,” he said. “I don’t think any coach has ever had his team score (1.45) goals per game through 11 consecutive games. It’s just unheard of.”

But that’s the situation in which the Komets find themselves, as they’re 2-8-1 and in last place in the 18-team Central Hockey League.

Were they an expansion or rebuilding team, maybe it would be explainable, Sims said, but the Komets retain the nucleus that won the last three championships of the IHL and had similar expectations going into this season.

“(You don’t expect) this from a team with the amount of goals that we should have,” Sims said.

So what do the Komets, who next play Thursday against the visiting Quad City Mallards (8-5-0), try next?

Sims and general manager David Franke have been evaluating what personnel changes, if any, should be made. And last week, Sims tried to lighten the mood by injecting some fun into practice. He had scrimmages in which the players held their sticks upside down and in their off hands, and they went bowling Thursday.

“We had a fun week last week, with some work, and it was the exact same thing for two (weekend) games,” Sims said after his team lost 3-2 to Arizona and 2-1 to Dayton, both at Memorial Coliseum.

“We should have come out with at least some points. Not to even get a tie was discouraging.”

Part of the dilemma is that the Komets’ efforts have been OK lately – they outshot the opposition 79-60 last weekend – but the players haven’t been able to score with any regularity.

“It’s not like anybody’s not trying,” defenseman Bobby Phillips said.

The Komets’ defense ranks eighth with 2.91 goals against per game, and some of the goals given up lately have been of the flukier variety, deflections off pads and skates, even one that may have been off an uncalled high stick.

“We’ve just got to stick to it,” Phillips said.

“I’m sure we’ll do more drills, crashing the net and getting rebounds, and we’ve just got to keep shooting. We’ve got two great goalies (Nick Boucher and Kevin Reiter) to shoot against. They’re standing on their heads, and that should help us in practice. We’re scoring goals in practice, so we should be able to do it during games.”

More than anything, the Komets are trying to remain optimistic they can get better bounces at both ends of the ice.

Sixteen teams will make the playoffs, and the Komets are only four points back of No. 16, Laredo, with 55 games remaining in the season.