FORT WAYNE, Ind. -The Komets earned four points in the three games played for week 22 and improved to 28-21-11 and 67 points in 60 games to remain in a dead heat with Florida (60gp), Evansville (61gp), Wheeling (62gp), Greenville (60gp) and Cincinnati (60gp) for the final four qualifying playoff positions. With four weeks and a dozen games remaining, the Komets are tied with Florida for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Komets trail Wheeling (7th) by three points and Greenville (6th) by four points while Cincinnati (5th) holds a five point margin over the Komets.
About last week— Friday the Komets upended Florida 5-2 in the first of a home double-header against the Everblades. Goals from five different players gave Fort Wayne the win as goaltender Ben Meisner snagged his 11th Fort Wayne win of the season, 13th overall, making 39 saves on 41 shots.
Saturday Florida turned the tables on the Komets with a 3-1 win to even the brief two-game weekend series between the two conference rivals. Florida once again pulled even with the Komets in the Eastern Conference standings and matched the K’s with 65 points after 59 games. It was the final meeting of the year with the Komets winning the season series 4-3-0.
Sunday the Komets doubled-up the Walleye in Toledo 4-2, posting the most shots in a game this season with 52. Netminder Andrey Makarov registered his 15th win of the season stopping 33 of 35 Toledo shots to help the Komets snap a brief two-game road winless string. The win was Fort Wayne’s 200th all time win over a Toledo team (200-155-3-27t) since Oct. 25, 1952 when the Komets made their Fort Wayne pro debut with a 4-0 loss to the Mercurys at the Memorial Coliseum.
Milestones and markers— Komet defenseman Matthew Maione posted his first pro point (assist) in his second appearance since joining the Komets after a four-year stint with the University of Prince Edward Island…..Forward Mitch Bruijsten scored his first career game winning goal in his first Fort Wayne game Friday against Florida…..Mike Embach (LW) reached a season career high 20 goals with Fort Wayne’s lone marker Saturday against Florida…..Sy Nutkevitch (C) has skated 99 pro games……Brandon Marino (RW) has not gone more than two games in a row without a point since Jan. 17. Since then, Marino has scored 8 goals and 24 assists for 32 points in 24 games…..With Fort Wayne’s 4-2 win at Toledo Sunday, the Komets improved to 20-0-2 when reaching four or more goals in a game this year.
Komet leaders— Marino leads the ECHL with 51 assists and 75 points and ranks fifth in the league with 24 goals…..Chris Auger leads the Komets and ranks third in the ECHL with 26 goals…..Scott Fleming (C) and Simon Danis-Pepin (D) lead with +12…..Kaleigh Schrock leads with 151 penalty minutes.
Iron men— Marino and Joe Hartman (D) have appeared in all 60 Komet games to date.
Streaking Komet— Embach has a three-game point-scoring streak of 2 goals and 2 assists.
The week ahead— The Komets will skate four games in five nights starting with three home games in four nights. Wednesday Orlando (36-19-4, 76 points) visits for a 7pm faceoff. It’s the only meeting of the season between the Komets and Solar Bears. Last year the Komets took the season series 3-1-0. Orlando currently resides in fourth-place in the Eastern Conference and is three points out of first-place in the race to secure home-ice advantage at least thru the semi-finals. The Bears are 3-3-1 in their last seven games, and since posting an 11-game win string. Orlando skates at Kalamazoo tonight (Monday) before traveling to Fort Wayne for Wednesday’s tilt.
Friday the Komets host Gwinnett’s second and final visit of the year at 8pm. The conference rival Gladiators (24-32-5, 53 points) clipped the K’s 3-2 in the only previous meeting of the season Dec. 29 in Fort Wayne. 11th-place Gwinnett trails the eighth-place Komets by 14 points with 11 games remaining. The Gladiators are coming off a three-point home-and-home series against South Carolina last Friday and Saturday and are 6-2-1 in their last nine outings. Gwinnett will visit Elmira for a St. Pat’s Day game tonight and then face the Royals at Reading Wednesday before making the trip to Fort Wayne Friday.
Saturday the Komets will host conference rival Kalamazoo (37-18-5, 79 points) at 7:30pm before traveling to Kalamazoo to face the Wings Sunday at 3pm. Fort Wayne is 3-6-3 in 12 meetings this year. The Wings have won the last four straight meetings. This weekend’s pair of games will end the season series. Kalamazoo is tied with Reading and South Carolina for first place in the Eastern Conference going into this week’s games and are the hottest team in the ECHL riding a seven-game winning streak. Kalamazoo has not lost back-to-back games since Jan. 31 and are 15-2-1 since. The Wings will host Orlando tonight (Monday) and welcome Reading to Wings Stadium Friday before starting a home-and-home series against the Komets Saturday in Fort Wayne.
Komet legends to skate at Kalamazoo Sunday— The Komet legends will skate against the Kalamazoo Wings legends at Wings Stadium in Kalamazoo this Sunday at 1pm, prior to the Komets/Wings ECHL game at 3pm. Former Komets expected to participate are John Hilworth (D), Brian McKee (D), Ron Leef (F), Jimmy Logan (F), Kevin Bertram (D), Konstantin Shafranov (F), Kelly Hurd (F), Adam Lewis (F), Steve Fletcher (F) and Olivier Legault (F). Serving as coaches will be Robbie Irons (G), George Drysdale (F), Chuck Adamson (G) and Eddie Long.