For more on the Komets, follow Blake Sebring on Twitter at www.twitter.com/blakesebring and at his blog www.tailingthekomets.com.
Phase One of training camp is over for the Fort Wayne Komets, and now Phase Two starts.
Komets coach Gary Graham and General Manager David Franke met after Saturday night's 6-2 exhibition game win over the Wheeling Nailers to discuss what this season's roster will look like. They'll meet with every player on Sunday before announcing the roster that will start the regular season next Saturday at home against Toledo.
``There are a lot of different things,'' Graham said. ``You have to fit the pieces of the puzzle. You have the salary cap and trying to find a way to get the best group of guys out of this training camp. I just went in there and told every man-to-man that I appreciate everybody committing to Fort Wayne. It was a great group in training camp, the best I've ever worked with. Everybody was positive, everybody worked hard. We got better each and every day, and that's all I asked from the guys. Tonight was kind of a summation of everything and it was our best hockey.''
After playing last night in Reading, driving home to drop some players off and pick some others up and then riding the bus all day, Wheeling was obviously out of energy. The Nailers were playing their fourth exhibition game, and the Komets were looking to make up for Friday's 5-2 loss in Kalamazoo.
``Before the game, we said good teams don't lose back-to-back games,'' Graham said. ``The guys took that to heart. I think we had a better first period and that was actually big for us to play with the lead and get that positivity going.''
The Komets led 2-0 after the first period on goals from John Dunbar and Chris Auger, and stretched that to 5-0 in the second on another goal from Dunbar and two from Mickey Lang.
``In the offseason talking to Gary, one of the things he wanted me to work on was having a shooter's mentality a little more,'' said Dunbar who finished with three goals in the three exhibition games. ``Last year, I feel like I was a pass-first guy, and that's something I had in mind throughout camp and the exhibition games so I was firing more.''
Coming into training camp, he might have been a darkhorse to make the team, but he was the most consistent scorer in the exhibition games and scrimmages.
The Komets out-shot the Nailers 31-24 as John Muse made 22 saves, including a spectacular diving stop in the third period when he dove over a Wheeling player and a Komet defenseman in a pile in front.
Always attacking in the offensive or defensive zone, the Komets showed their new speed, forcing turnovers and looking to force odd-man rushes. There was always plenty of hitting and pressure on the Nailers' defensemen.
``I thought we played well,'' Brandon Marino said. ``We showed the type of team we want to be this year. We talked all summer about playing faster, playing well at home. Hopefully we keep that going in the regular season next weekend.''
But before that, there's a lot more to learn this week.
``There's just a lot of things we have to work on,'' Graham said. ``Overall talk and communication, putting systems in. We're going to have a lot of video this week, a lot of teaching. Next week is a different kind of training camp and a lot of details in next week's practice.''
So basically training camp doesn't end?
``It never ends,'' Graham said.