Inside The Zone – Komets Hockey – March 10

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The Komets enter week 22 of 2013-14 tied with Florida for the eighth and final playoff position in the Eastern Conference with five weeks and 15 games remaining and have a chance to improve their position over Florida this weekend when the Everblades visit for a pair of games Friday at 8pm and Saturday at 7:30pm at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum.  Both teams are idle this week until they square off Friday.  The Komets are 3-2-0 against the Blades after five meetings and 1-1-0 after two in Fort Wayne previously this year.  Florida is coming off two straight losses last weekend and is 1-5-2 in their last eight outings.

After this Friday and Saturday’s home double-header against Florida, the Komets will travel to Toledo and face the Walleye at Huntington Center (7,431) Sunday at 5:15pm to complete the week.  The Komets are 4-0-1 after five meetings with Toledo and four meetings remain.  The Walleye finished last week with two wins at Cincinnati Friday and Saturday and skate at Wheeling Wednesday and host Kalamazoo Friday and Saturday before hosting the Komets Sunday.

Looking up— The Komets (26-20-11, 63 points) and Florida (28-22-7, 63 points) each trail seventh-place Wheeling by a point and sixth-place Greenville by six points in the Eastern Conference battle for playoff contention.  Fifth-place Cincinnati has 70 points to lead the Komets and Blades by seven points.  Evansville is on the Komets’ heels with 62 points after 58 games.  After the Komets cap the season series against Florida this weekend, they have one game remaining against Evansville and two games remaining against Cincinnati.  There are no meetings remaining this season with Greenville.

ECHL playoff qualification rules— In the Eastern Conference, postseason berths will be awarded to the top eight teams based on regular-season finish, regardless of division.  The conference semifinals will have the winner of the first-place and eighth-place matchup meeting the winner of the fourth-place and fifth-place series.  The winner of the second-place and seventh-place series will face the winner of the third-place and sixth-place matchup.

All series in the 2014 Kelly Cup Playoffs will be played in a best-of-seven format.

How they currently stand in the Eastern Conference through games of 3/9/14:

Rank Eastern Conference Standings GP W L OTL SOL PTS PCT
1 Kalamazoo Wings 58 35 18 2 3 75 0.647
2 South Carolina Stingrays 58 35 18 2 3 75 0.647
3 Reading Royals 57 36 19 1 1 74 0.649
4 Orlando Solar Bears 57 35 18 2 2 74 0.649
5 Cincinnati Cyclones 58 32 20 2 4 70 0.603
6 Greenville Road Warriors 58 32 21 2 3 69 0.595
7 Wheeling Nailers 59 29 24 1 5 64 0.542
8 Fort Wayne Komets 57 26 20 6 5 63 0.553
9 Florida Everblades 57 28 22 3 4 63 0.553
10 Evansville IceMen 58 26 22 3 7 62 0.534
11 Elmira Jackals 57 22 27 3 5 52 0.456
12 Gwinnett Gladiators 58 23 31 2 2 50 0.431
13 Toledo Walleye 56 18 34 3 1 40 0.357


About last week— The Komets dropped both games of a weekend double-header at Kalamazoo by identical scores of 4-3.  Saturday the Komets rallied from a 1-0 deficit with goals by Matt Carter (LW), Chris Auger (LW) and Simon Danis-Pepin (D) before the Wings came back with three unanswered goals for the win.  Netminder Ben Meisner suffered his first road loss of the season in 10 appearances making 20 saves on 24 shots.

Sunday the Komets overcame deficits of 2-0 and 3-1 before Kalamazoo tallied the game winner at 3:31 of the third period on the power play.  Fort Wayne goals were scored by Auger, Jordon Southorn (D) and Brandon Marino (RW).  Rookie Scott Fleming (C) registered three assists for his fourth three-point game of the season while goaltender Andrey Makarov suffered the loss on 20 saves. Two meetings remain against the two rivals, a home-and-home series starting Saturday, March 22 in Fort Wayne and concluding Sunday, March 23 at Wings Stadium.

Streaks, milestones, highs— Auger finished the week riding a three-game goal and point streak (3g, 1a).  Danis-Pepin’s marker Saturday gives him a career high of five goals on the season.  Dean Ouellet had an assist in Saturday’s match to give him a career high 29 assists.  Marino has reached 20 goals, 50 assists and the 70-point plateau for the second consecutive season.

Komet leaders— Marino leads the ECHL with 50 assists and 72 points while Auger leads the Komets with 26 goals, second in the ECHL.  Fleming continues to lead with +12 and leads Komet rookies with 12 goals, 27 assists and 39 points.  Southorn leads Fort Wayne defensemen with 11 goals and is tied with Jace Coyle with 30 goals.  Coyle leads the defense with 22 assists.

Wearin’ o’ the green— The Komets will be wearing a new set of green St. Patty’s Day Jerseys for both games this weekend when they are home to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with the Florida Everblades Friday at 8pm and again Saturday at 7:30pm.  Lucky fans will have chances to win the green game-worn sweaters.  Raffle tickets will be sold during both games.

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