3/3 Inside The Zone – Komets Hockey

Saturday Afternoon Forecast

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The Komets earned two points for week 20, improving to 26-18-11 and 63 points to maintain third place in the North Division of the Eastern Conference and trail first-place Kalamazoo and Cincinnati by four points.

In the tight battle for playoff position where the first eight teams in the Eastern Conference qualify for post-season play, the Komets hold seventh place and lead eighth-place Florida and Wheeling by a point while trailing first place South Carolina by 10 points with 17 games remaining.

About last week— The Komets dropped a 4-1 home decision to Kalamazoo Wednesday.  Defenseman Simon Danis-Pepin scored the lone Komet goal.  Goaltender Ben Meisner had his four-game win string snapped making 19 saves on 22 shots in first home appearance since Jan. 31.

Friday the Komets were clipped 3-2 by the visiting Greenville Road Warriors to complete the brief two-game season series, finishing at an even 1-1-0.  Netminder Andrey Makarov suffered his 10th loss of the season stopping 18 of 21 shots and saw his home unbeaten streak snapped at seven games.  Joe Hartman (D) scored his second marker of the season.  Shawn Szydlowski (RW) also contributed a goal.  Brandon Marino (RW) dished an assist for points in 14 of his last 18 appearances (5g, 21a) in front of the largest ECHL attendance for the night of 8,202.

Sunday the Komets chipped the IceMen at Evansville 1-0 for Fort Wayne’s second shutout of the season and third straight road win.  Chris Auger (LW) score the game winner at 14:31 of the third period on a break-away while Meisner earned his 10th Fort Wayne win and second Komet shutout of the season stopping all 35 Evansville shots.  It was Meisner’s third shutout of the year including one with Utah prior to joining the Komets.  Meisner remains unbeaten on the road with the Komets at 9-0.  It was his 10th Fort Wayne win of the season.

Komet leaders— Marino leads the ECHL with 48 assists and 69 points…..Auger leads the Komets and ranks third in the league with 24 goals…..Scott Fleming (C) leads Komet rookies with 12 goals, 24 assists and 36 points….Jace Coyle leads Fort Wayne defensemen with 22 assists and 30 points…..Meisner ranks second among ECHL rookie goaltenders with a 2.34 goals-against average (including games with Utah).

100 club— Jace Coyle (D) skated his 100th career ECHL game Friday against Greenville.

Career highs broken and on the brink— Danis-Pepin has career highs of four goals, 16 assists, and currently as four goals and 12 assists…..Coyle has career highs of eight goals, 23 assists and 31 points, and currently has eight goals, 22 assists and 30 points…..Mike Embach (LW) has set new career highs of 19 goals, 18 assists and 37 points in 51 games combined with Cincinnati, Gwinnett and Fort Wayne…..Dean Ouellet (C) is tied with his career high of 28 assists.

Special K’s— The Komets rank third in the ECHL with a penalty kill rating of 87.4 after completing the week riding a streak of 12 straight successful penalty kills and are 19/21 on the PK over the last six games.

The week ahead— The Komets have a chance to gain ground on North Division leader Kalamazoo with two games at Wings stadium this weekend.  The Komets are idle this week until they travel to Kalamazoo Saturday for a 7:30pm start and remain in West Michigan for a Sunday 3pm tilt at Wings Stadium.  Four meetings remain and after 10 Fort Wayne is 3-4-3 when facing Kalamazoo, 1-3-1 after five at Kalamazoo.  The Wings enter the week tied with Cincinnati for first-place in the North Division with 67 points and have a game in hand over the Cyclones.  Kalamazoo skates at Orlando tonight (Monday) and hosts South Carolina Friday before welcoming the Komets for a pair Saturday and Sunday.

Next Komet home game— The next Komet home game is Friday, March 14 when the K’s open a two-game home stand against conference rival Florida.  The Komets will face the Everblades Friday at 8pm, and again Saturday, March 15 at 7:30pm at the Memorial Coliseum.  The Komets will be wearing green jerseys in honor of the St. Patrick’s Day weekend. The special game-worn jerseys will be raffled off at the game Saturday.

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