The Komets believe they must win all 10 of their remaining games, in order to win a fourth consecutive regular-season championship and get home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs.
They feel it's an attainable goal, but they'll have to do it for a stretch without goaltender Tim Haun, who leads the IHL in victories (25), goals-against average (2.16) and save percentage (.922), and is a candidate for league MVP honors.
Though Haun declined to talk specifics, general manager David Franke and coach Al Sims confirmed he has a concussion and will be out at least until April 7.
"I've taken a few bumps and bruises this year," Haun said. "It's gotten to the point where I needed to take a break. The playoffs are coming up and that's the real battle. We want to be as healthy as we can going into the playoffs, so I thought I'd give it a break."
The Komets (42-20-4) play host to the last-place Dayton Gems (24-41-4) on Thursday night. Fort Wayne trails Muskegon by seven points, though the Lumberjacks have played one more game.
"I think (winning out) is definitely possible with seven of our last 10 games at home, and our (22-7-2) home record speaks for itself," defenseman Danko Mironovic said. "At this point of the season, we should definitely be coming out to win every game with our best efforts."
While Haun will miss at least three games, the Komets are able to turn to Nick Boucher, who backstopped them to the last two Turner Cup playoff championships. He is 17-9-2 and ranks second in GAA (2.49) and save percentage (.920).
"It's always tough when you lose one of the key guys on the team, and Timmy's had a great season," Mironovic said. "But we have all the confidence in the world in Nick that he can do the job."
There has been no word from the IHL on an alleged incident Sunday, in which Boucher may have inadvertently hit a fan with his stick during a 5-4 shootout loss. The Komets believe the issue is dead, so it appears Boucher will be good to play against the Gems.
"When you've got the two best in the league, it's tough when one of them goes down," Sims said. "But at the same time for Bouch, this will be good for him. He' got to get ready for three (games) in three nights, and in the playoffs we do play three in three nights. Once he gets mentally and physically there, he's one of the best, and this will be good for him."
The Komets will sign a goalie to take Haun's place, possibly A.J. Bucchino, who was 13-20-4 with a 3.88 GAA and .883 save percentage this season with Louisiana of the Southern Professional Hockey League.
As for Haun, who Franke said suffered the concussion when his head hit the ice in a 4-3 loss to Muskegon on March 20, he hopes to be back in the fold soon.
"I'm always looking at the positives," Haun said. "I'm taking this time off and using it in a positive way to just regroup and refocus ... I can control those things and come back and just be better than I was before."
Note: Forward Mitch Woods (leg) is questionable to play Thursday.