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READING, Pa. -- One of the major differences for Fort Wayne recently has been the way the Komets are playing much better defensively. As one of Reading's management team said over the weekend, ``Somehow they turned into a pretty good defensive team all of a sudden.''
Throughout the season, the Komets were known for their offensive firepower, and sometimes forgetting the other end of the ice, but with about 20 games to go in the regular season they found a way to use that aggressiveness to help their defense. Over that span, the Komets averaged 38 shots per game while holding opponents to 29. By controlling the puck with more possession in the offensive end, 10 times the Komets limited opponents to 25 shots or fewer during that span.
That doesn't happen unless the players trust coach Gary Graham's system and scouting reports.
``Fort Wayne is not a team to be underestimated,'' Reading coach Larry Courville said. ``They play an excellent game. They are team that can play with anybody.''
This is the second time in the franchise's 62-year history that the Komets have faced a team from Pennsylvania in the playoffs. Can anyone remember the first team?
It's every player's dream to play in the National Hockey League, but former Komet and Fort Wayne-native Tyler Sims realized early he wasn't going to make it. He found another way.
Next week, the son of former Komets coach Al Sims will complete a one-year internship in the legal offices of the NHL in New York. Sims is in the second year of a three-year stint at the Seton Hall University School of Law. He saw spot duty with the Komets as an emergency backup goaltender several times.
After graduating from Providence, Sims took five years off school to try pro hockey, playing 47 games in the ECHL, Central Hockey League and American Hockey League during four seasons.
``If I had gone right from college to law school I don't think I would have the drive I have right now and have done as well as I am right now,'' he said. ``I miss the game, I'm not going to lie, but I have a lot going on here and I'm still happy with my decision to retire and go to school.
``I tell people a lot that my dream growing up until I was 25 was to play in the NHL, and now that I'm working there it's obviously not the same but it is still a dream come true.''
Without being able to give too many specifics, Sims said he worked on grievances from NHL Players' Association, collective bargaining agreement compliance, club compliance and an emergency medical standards handbook over the last year while serving the league's four senior attorneys. He also got to work the New York Rangers-New York Islanders game at Yankee Stadium.
``It's really interesting to see the behind-the-scenes type work that goes on there,'' he said. ``To be able to work there was a huge accomplishment for me. Maybe someday in the figure I'll be able to work there or for a team or the NHLPA, something related to hockey. I'd love to remain involved in the game.''
During his 61 years live from radio rinkside, Komets announcer Bob Chase has called 490 of the Komets' 496 playoff games, including all 102 they have played in championship finals. His missed four games in 1998 because of heart bypass surgery and two in 2009 when he was inducted into the Upper Peninsula Sports Hall of Fame.
Even in Pennsylvania he's a legend, as all weekend longtime Chase fans came up to introduce themselves and tell stories. One Komets fan even drove over from New York for Saturday's game and the chance to meet Chase.
During their second season of existence, the 1952-53 Komets were swept by the Johnston Jets 2-0, losing the first game 5-4 in overtime and the second 3-2.
A first-round Game 6 would be the 500th playoff game in Komets history. ... Reading is trying to become the first ECHL team to repeat as Kelly Cup champions since Toledo in 1993 and 1994... The Royals play a French version of “O Canada” as part of their pregame ceremonies. ... Reading was 8-2 at home last year during its championship run. ... The Memorial Coliseum and the Komets are offering $1 beer and pop during all first-round playoff games... Don't forget Sunday's Game 5 will start at 6 p.m. instead of the regular-season's 5 p.m. faceoff. ... The Royals went 11-0-1 over their last 12 regular-season home games. They were 5-1 against the Komets over the past two seasons. ... The Royals are 5-4-1 over their last 10 road games, and the Komets are 7-3 over their last 10 home games.