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Komets

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      Komets coach Gary Graham had called for better defense.
  • Defensive lapses concern Komets
    Despite being off to a start of 10 victories in their first 13 games, some frustration has been brewing within the Komets’ locker room over the defensive play.The Komets have allowed 3.31 goals per game, giving them the No.
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Komets
vs. Cincinnati
When: 8 p.m. today at Toledo
When: 7 p.m. Saturday vs. Wheeling
When: 5 p.m. Sunday
Radio: 1190 AM, 92.3 FM
Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Jean-Michel Rizk has been running the Komets’ power play.

Komets shake up power play units

Team puts Rizk on point in effort to create offense

Jean-Michel Rizk is the latest player – and there have been about 12 this season – to man the point on the power play.

It may have been surprising to see the Komets’ defensive-minded third-line center quarterbacking on special teams the past three games, but Fort Wayne is willing to try anything these days.

“We’ve changed the power play units around, and Rizk is a shooter,” Fort Wayne coach Al Sims said. “We thought we could get him shooting the puck back there.”

The Komets are 26-26-2 and have lost five in a row for only the third time since 1997.

In an attempt to shake things up, they traded defenseman Brent Henley to Florida on Wednesday for cash, and more moves are expected before tonight’s game against Cincinnati (31-17-6).

In another move made Thursday, Matt Kennedy, a right wing, was reassigned to Fort Wayne from Norfolk of the American Hockey League.

He appeared in 10 games for the Komets this season, with an assist and six penalty minutes. He has played nine games for Norfolk in the AHL this year, with 17 penalty minutes.

Rizk has 16 goals and 27 points in 53 games this season. On the power play, he’s got two goals and three assists.

But the Komets’ power play ranks last among the ECHL’s 23 teams with an efficiency of 12.1 percent.

“Until our power play starts hitting 1 for 4 or 1 for 5 every night, we’ve got to keep trying different people on it,” said Sims, whose team is six points out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, with 18 games remaining.

The key to improving may be with special teams. And the key with special teams may be defenseman Jamie Milam and forward Matt Syroczynski, who have both won championships with the Komets and re-signed with the team in the last month.

Milam, who also mans the point, is scoreless in four games. Syroczynski has two goals and three points in nine games but could benefit from the return of linemate Colin Chaulk, who has been back two games after missing 32 with shoulder and foot injuries.

“I’m feeling better each game,” said Syroczynski, who came back from almost three years of retirement. “For a guy like me, it’s nice to have Chaulk back because we have some chemistry there. We know how each other play. We’ve both got to get in a little better shape.

“But we’ve got to work, spend time after practice and get some chemistry going with (linemate and leading scorer Brandon Marino). He’s a small guy, but he digs the pucks out and finishes checks. I think it’s a line that could work down the stretch.”

jcohn@jg.net

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