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Bloomington to show improvement

Skalde believes this will be the year for his team

The Komets will have a packed arena Friday night for their home opener against the Bloomington PrairieThunder. More than 8,000 tickets have already been sold.

Bloomington coach Jarrod Skalde hopes it's a raucous atmosphere. Last summer, he fought to get this game on his team's schedule for a particular reason.

"I wanted our guys to be in Fort Wayne for this game, with a huge crowd," he said. "It will be good for them to experience the atmosphere and see the banners going up. They need to see what that's like."

The PrairieThunder missed the playoffs in its first three seasons. But Skalde thinks his team has turned the corner.

"I'm confident we made the necessary upgrades after last season," he said. "There were a lot of holes in our lineup, all the way through. We've upgraded at every position."

That includes goaltender with Paulo Colaiacovo, who has won championships in the Central Hockey League and in Europe, and forward with the prolific scoring Jamie Carroll. He will play his first game with Bloomington on Friday and be on a line with Jon Booras and Craig Macdonald.

The PrairieThunder finished fifth last season but was regarded as a pain-in-the-neck team no one wanted to face.

"I take that as a compliment because it means that, as an organization, we competed every night," Skalde said. "We just lacked the talent, size and little bit of grit. We haven't changed our approach to the game. We still want to be that team nobody wants to play. But we've added that talent in."

Justin A. Cohn, pro sports coordinator for The Journal Gazette, has been covering the Fort Wayne Komets since 1997. His reporting includes game stories from home and away, features about the players and personalities associated with the Komets, plus coverage of issues affecting hockey at all levels. A native of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Cohn graduated from Emory University in Atlanta. He can be reached at 260-461-8429 or by email at