For more on the Komets, follow Blake Sebring on Twitter at www.twitter.com/blakesebring and at his blog, www.tailingthekomets.com.
Komets at Kalamazoo
Faceoff: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Radio: WOWO, 1190-AM
The Fort Wayne Komets may be a long shot to make the ECHL playoffs, but they are going to be aggressive about making sure they have a chance.
The Komets showed off a new two-man forechecking system Wednesday night and fired a season-high 47 shots on goal to beat the Evansville IceMen 6-3 at Memorial Coliseum.
``We didn't want to sit back and wait against them,'' said Komets coach Al Sims, who now has 501 wins as Fort Wayne's boss. ``We wanted to force the issue, and we thought if we did we could get some turnovers. We had a lot of turnovers that turned into two-on-ones and break-ins. We didn't convert on all of them, but we converted on enough of them.''
Usually, the Komets sit back in their neutral zone trap and wait for turnovers, but the new strategy surprised everyone as the Komets were flying into the zone to put pressure on the Evansville defense. Assistant coach Colin Chaulk came up with the idea.
``When Al and Chaulker decided to do that, we were really excited when they told us,'' said forward Eric Giosa, who had two goals and an assist. ``We were hooting and hollering. We know up front we have guys who can make things happen in that situation, so it's nice to do that.''
Coming into the contest, Fort Wayne had been averaging 2.3 goals per game over its last 27 games. Giosa also assisted on Nick Schaus' first-period power-play goal that ended 16 man-advantage chances without a goal for the Komets.
The strategy also seemed to take pressure off Komets goaltender Charlie Effinger, who was making his first start since Feb. 17. He was able to make a few momentum-saving saves instead of facing a barrage.
``It had been awhile, but we came out with a pretty good effort,'' Effinger said. ``Any time you can put 47 shots on their goal that alleviates some of the pressure defensively, it makes it more manageable when it's just a few and not time after time in your own end.''
The biggest momentum saver came in the third period. After Evansville tied the game five minutes into the period, the Komets came right back with two goals to regain control.
``I think the biggest thing was for a team that has struggled to win at home to give up a third-period lead with 15 minutes to go, that could have been a crushing blow,'' Effinger said. ``I really respect the way the guys responded right back with two goals in the next three minutes. It's a great answer for losing a lead at home.''
Now the Komets need some help. Greenville beat Toledo 4-1 to move into seventh place in the ECHL's Eastern Conference standings, knocking the Walleye to the eighth and final spot. The Komets are still eight points back with nine games to go. Fort Wayne still has to get past Kalamazoo and Wheeling somehow, too.
``We've got to win every game, and we know that,'' Sims said. ``We've got one down, and we've got nine to go.''
Evansville 1 1 1 - 3
Fort Wayne 2 1 3 - 6
Scoring: 1. FW-Nick Schaus (Eric Giosa, Brett Smith) 6:21; 2. FW-Giosa (Thomas Beauregard, Matt Syroczynski) 11:28; 3. E-Dylan Clarke (Todd Robinson) 12:50.
Penalties: E-Colin Reddin (interference) 5:45.
Scoring: 4. FW-Giosa (Ryan Hegarty, Matt Firman) 5:22; 5. E-Clarke (Robinson) 19:18.
Penalties: E-Matt Krug (roughing) 11:48; FW-Schaus (roughing) 11:48.
Scoring: 6. E-Clarke (Daniel Tetrault, Robinson) 3:19; 7. FW-Daniel Nycholat (Beauregard, Schaus) 4:22; 8. FW-John Dunbar (Brandon Marino) 4:55; 9. FW-Firman (Nick Wheeler, Kaleigh Schrock) 15:33.
Penalties: FW-Schaus (roughing) 1:24.
Shots on goal: E/13-11-9--33; FW/18-13-16--47. Goaltenders: E/James Reid, FW/Charlie Effinger. Power-play opportunities: E/1 of 1; FW/1 of 1. Officials: Referee-Nick Leduc; Linesmen: Shaun Morgan,Francis Trempe. Attendance: 5,789.