FORT WAYNE — Record-wise, the Komets have been very good in their first ECHL season. They are 7-3-1 with a winning percentage of .682, sixth best among the league’s 23 teams.
But evaluating them can be a tad difficult.
They have only played four teams – Evansville, Gwinnett, Kalamazoo and Toledo – and those opponents have a combined record of 27-23-3. Take the two games against Gwinnett out, and the Komets’ opponents are four games below .500.
On the other hand, the Komets have only played a couple of games with their full lineup, thanks to call-ups and a myriad of injuries, forcing them to mix and match their line combinations and even play defensemen at forward.
“Everybody has played with everybody else at this point, whether it was in training camp or to this point in the season,” said coach Al Sims, whose doesn’t think the Komets will get a full complement of players until the last week of November.
Only seven players have appeared in all 11 games for the Komets (7-2-1), who have already lost Chris Auger (knee) for the season and had Eric Giosa (ankle) for only four games. The Komets are also without goalie Marco Cousineau (groin), defensemen Ryan Hegarty (hand) and Nick Schaus (called up to Norfolk) and forward Matt Kennedy (leg).
“When guys go down, it’s an opportunity for somebody else to show that they can play,” captain Colin Chaulk said. “You never want that to be the case, but it’s been that way so far. We’re learning that we have some players here that can play the game. When everyone is healthy, it’s going to be a tough decision with the coaching staff to see who’s going to be playing and that’s a good problem.”
The Komets have won five of their last six, but they lost their last outing, 6-2 at Kalamazoo, Mich., on Saturday.
They play host to Toledo (6-6-1) and Evansville (3-9-1) on Friday and Saturday, respectively, at Memorial Coliseum. It will be the first appearance by a Toledo team at the Coliseum since 1986 in the original IHL.
The Komets may bring in a new player or two before Friday’s game, unless Schaus is returned from the American Hockey League, but there will probably continue to be creativity with the lineup.
Fort Wayne has been helped by some superlative individual efforts, though.
Brandon Marino is fourth in the league with 19 points, including six goals, and he’s had a point in all but one game. His current eight-game point-scoring streak is tied for the longest in the ECHL this season.
Goaltender Kenny Reiter leads the league in goals-against average (1.17) and save percentage (.959) but is 35 minutes short of making the ECHL’s official statistical report for those categories.