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Posted on Mon. Apr. 14, 2014 - 12:01 am EDT

Komets ready for fresh start in playoffs

They'll open at Reading on Thursday

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For more on the Komets, follow Blake Sebring on Twitter at www.twitter.com/blakesebring and at his blog www.tailingthekomets.com.

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ECHL Playoffs

Fort Wayne Komets vs Reading Royals

1) Thursday at Reading, 7:05pm

2) Saturday at Reading, 7:05pm

3) Thursday, April 24 at Fort Wayne, 7:30pm

4) Friday, April 25 at Fort Wayne, 8pm

5) *Sunday, April 27 at Fort Wayne, 6pm

6) *Tuesday, April 29 at Reading, 7:05pm

7) *Wednesday, April 30 at Reading, 7:05pm

*- If necessary

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Each game takes all three periods and every season takes all 72 games.

Now the Fort Wayne Komets get a fresh beginning, a chance to hit the reset button on their season, and they can't wait.

"We've been in this battle mode for so long, mentally to have that relief, honestly, it's like taking a whole nother person off your shoulders," forward Chris Auger said after the team qualified for the ECHL playoffs.

By making the playoffs, the Komets get forget about October, November and December with a chance to show everyone what they learned in January, February, March and April. They'll start Thursday and Saturday in Reading.

"I thought our second half was a lot better," leading scorer Brandon Marino said. "We got a lot of continuity in the room with guys who were buying in to what we were trying to do here. We came together as a group and it's at the right time. Hopefully we can carry that on."

Coach Gary Graham gave captain Kaleigh Schrock, defenseman Simon Danis-Pepin, Auger and Marino a ton of credit for helping pull the team together after Christmas and for making him a more effective coach with their leadership.

"There were a lot of things that happened this year that we dealt with," Graham said. "We made the most out of it. The guys who have come into the locker room have done everything we could possibly ask from them. They are good teammates and we have a good locker room, and that's the most important thing."

Which the players believe could also make the Komets a very dangerous playoff team. It seems like every game they've played since January has had playoff implications. Auger said playing with desperation has become a normal routine as the players built faith in each other.

"Once you get to the dance, anything can happen, especially in this league," he said. "There is not a big point differential between all the teams, and we feel like we match up well against every team. We're winning a lot of closer games and we might be one of the hottest teams in the league right now. We're finding ways to win. The reset button, everyone is a zero.

"It's going to take all the pressure off us. The teams that are higher ranked are going to have to feel the pressure, and it's probably not a good thing for them that we get to go on the road, because we're very good on the road."

The Komets won 20 games on the road and they won in places like Reading, Florida, South Carolina, Kalamazoo and Cincinnati. Whenever they were struggling the most to win at Memorial Coliseum, they always seemed able to go on the road and figure things out. They are completely comfortable not having any home-ice advantage. They are also as healthy and as deep as they've ever been this season.

"Playoffs are all about matchups," Schrock said. "It doesn't matter what the seeds are, it matters who you match up with that team. Usually a team with more character is going to find a way to win a best-of-seven series."

So hit that reset button, but don't push down too hard. The Komets think all the adversity has taught them what they needed.

"We can't be more set than we are in this locker room to go into the playoffs and make a run," Danis-Pepin said.

KOMETS 4, WALLEYE 3

Saturday

KOMETS 4, WALLEYE 3

Toledo*1*0*2*0*0*--*3

Fort Wayne*1*1*1*0*1*--*4

First period

Scoring: 1. T-Brett Perlini (Matt Abercrombie, C.J. Chartrain) 15:32; 2. FW-Brandon Marino (Scott Fleming, Chris Auger) 16:05.

Penalties: FW-Justin Sefton (boarding) 4:19; FW-Will Lacasse (cross checking) 5:29.

Second period

Scoring: 3. FW-Simon Danis-Pepin (Matt Carter, Christian Ouellet) 1:57.

Penalties: T-Kyle Gibbons (tripping) 7:29; FW-Fleming (slashing) 19:12; T-Tyler Albrecht (unsportsmanlike) 19:12.

Third period

Scoring: 4. FW-Jason Dale (Carter, Ouellet) 1:50; 5. T-Maxim Shalunov (unassisted) 4:00; 6. T-Shalunov (Perlini, Joe Gleason) 19:43.

Penalties: T-Jesse Messier (slashing) 9:26; T-Bench (unsportsmanlike) 10:45; T-Abercrombie (high sticking) 10:45; T-Tyler Elbrecht (fighting) 13:33; FW-Kaleigh Schrock (fighting) 13:33.

Overtime

Scoring: None.

Penalties: None.

Shootout

FW-Matt Carter, miss; T-Maxim Shalunov, miss; FW-Chris Auger, miss; T-Kristoff Kontos, miss; FW-Brandon Marino, miss; T-Matt Abercrombie, score; FW-Jason Dale, miss; T-Brett Perlini, miss; FW-Shawn Szydlowski, score; T-Ryan Flanigan, miss; FW-Will Lacass, miss; T-Kyle Rogers, miss; FW-Mike Embach, score; T-Kyle Bodie, miss. Fort Wayne wins 2-1.

Shots on goal: T/9-12-9-2--32; FW/16-16-19-2--53. Goaltenders: T/Jared Coreau, FW/Steve Summerhayes. Power-play opportunities: T/0 of 2; FW/0 of 3. Officials: Referee-Brett Sheva; Linesmen: Bob Marcia, Jim Scarpace. Attendance:7,033.

bsebring@news-sentinel.com


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