FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The quest for the Kelly Cup begins this weekend for the Fort Wayne Komets and the Quad City Mallards in the first round of the 2017 ECHL Central Division semifinals. The best-of seven series starts Friday on Sweetwater Ice at the Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne at 8pm and will follow a 2-3-2 format. Game 2 is slated for Saturday at 7:30pm at the Coliseum. The series switches to Quad City and the iWireless Center in downtown Moline, Illinois for games 3, 4 and 5 if necessary. If needed, games 6 and 7 will be held in Fort Wayne.
2017 ECHL KELLY CUP CENTRAL DIVISION SEMIFINALS
FORT WAYNE KOMETS VS QUAD CITY MALLARDS
Game 1- Friday, April 14……………Quad City at Fort Wayne, 8pm ET
Game 2- Saturday, April 15………..Quad City at Fort Wayne, 7:30pm ET
Game 3- Wednesday, April 19……Fort Wayne at Quad City, 7:35pm ET
Game 4- Friday, April 21……………Fort Wayne at Quad City, 8:05pm ET
Game 5- Saturday, April 22………..Fort Wayne at Quad City, 8:05pm ET*
Game 6- Monday, April 24…………Quad City at Fort Wayne, 7:30pm ET*
Game 7- Wednesday, April 26……Quad City at Fort Wayne, 7:30pm ET*
It’s the first ECHL post-season matchup between the teams. However, Fort Wayne and Quad City met three times in the playoffs when members of the United Hockey League (UHL). After losing the first two playoff series to the Mallards in 2000 and 2001 the Komets finally captured the 2003 UHL Colonial Cup championship by dismissing Quad City 4 games to 1 in the best-of-seven finals series.
Komets head coach Gary Graham guided his team to a 45-19-8 record and 98 points during the regular season and will make his fourth straight ECHL playoff appearance. The Komets reached 40 wins for the third consecutive season, topped the ECHL with 28 home wins while avoiding back-to-back home losses during 2016-17. Fort Wayne was 6-1-0 in their last seven outings and 8-2-1 in the last 11 games.
Quad City finished with a 40-28-4 mark and 84 points and split their wins at 20 each at home and on the road. The Mallards completed the season on a three-game losing streak but were 5-4-0 in their last nine games and 10-6-2 in their last 18.
The Komets met Quad City the most of any team during the regular season going 8-2-2 after a dozen meetings. The Komets registered a 4-2-1 home record against the Mallards and was unbeaten in regulation in five games at Quad City (4-0-1). Fort Wayne finished the season with a four-game unbeaten streak against the Mallards (2-0-2) winning the last two meetings.
The winner of the Fort Wayne/Quad City series will face the winner of the Toledo/Kalamazoo series in a best-of-seven Central Division finals.
The Komets announced their playoff roster Tuesday consisting of 22 players including 12 forwards, eight defensemen and two goaltenders. View the Fort Wayne playoff roster here.
Fort Wayne players making their ECHL playoff debut are Mason Baptista, Garrett Bartus, Jason Binkley, Mike Cazzola, Travis Ewanyk, Curtis Leonard, Ryan Lowney and Dan Milan.
Players with previous Fort Wayne playoff experience include Trevor Cheek (16 games 2016), Taylor Crunk (1 game 2016), Mike Embach (39 games 2014, 2015, 2016), Pat Nagle (21 games 2015, 2016), Brett Perlini (22 games 2015, 2016), Jamie Schaafsma (16 games 2016), Cody Sol (28 games 2015, 2016), Shawn Szydlowski (35 games 2014, 2015, 2016), Kyle Thomas (16 games 2016), Garrett Thompson (16 games 2016), Will Weber (16 games 2016).
Career Years— Several Komets posted career years during the 2016-17 regular season including Mason Baptista with 16 goals and 14 assists, Trevor Cheek (including AHL games) with 18 assists and 37 points, Gabriel Desjardins with 20 goals, 26 assists and 46 points, Travis Ewanyk (including AHL games) with 20 goals, 27 assists and 47 points, Curtis Leonard with 13 assists and 17 points, Brett Perlini (including Rapid City and Wichita ECHL games) with 23 goals and 38 points, Kyle Thomas (including AHL games) with 28 goals, 43 assists and 71 points, and Garrett Thompson with 20 goals and 46 points (also tied a career high of 26 assists).