The Komets average 21.58 penalty minutes per game, fifth most in the Central Hockey League, but that’s not so much indicative of their toughness as it is the amount of bad penalties they’ve taken this season.
And it’s part of the reason they are in the cellar of the 18-team circuit with a record of 13-18-5 heading into back-to-back games at Bossier-Shreveport, La.
That’s definitely one of our weaknesses, forward Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock said. We take soft penalties, stick penalties, slashing, hooking, penalties in the offensive and neutral zones. Those can be avoided. We can cut down two to three penalties per game.
It’s OK to take a defensive penalty in the defensive end. If a team has a scoring chance, that’s OK to get a penalty. But if their defense steals the puck from us in the offensive zone and we respond by slashing or hooking them, that’s bad. Sometimes you have to take a penalty, but there’s no excuse for a lot of them we take.
Last season, the Komets averaged 20.91 penalty minutes, second most in the seven-team International Hockey League, but a greater portion of those were from fights. They had 99 major penalties last season. This season, the Komets are en route to only 62 majors, though the season will be 10 games shorter.
Coach Al Sims said that, after winning three straight IHL championships, his team had trouble adjusting to the faster play in the CHL and the more stringent calls of the league’s officials, all of which have resulted in more penalties.
I think we’ve taken a lot of bad penalties this year, and our players have had to learn to keep the sticks down, Sims said.
We’re not taking the 12, 13 or 14 minors per game we were at the start of the season. We were taking a lot of bad penalties. We are down to five or six a night now.
Regardless of how many penalties the Komets take, though, they must have sound penalty killing. That hasn’t always been the case; they rank 13th with an efficiency of 81.6 percent. At home, they rank 15th at 80.2 percent, but on the road they are sixth at 83.1 percent.
If you’re going to be down five or six times a night, our penalty killing needs to shut the other team out or, at worst, give them only one goal per game, Sims said.
The Komets have been struggling at Memorial Coliseum lately – they are on a 1-3-3 run – but on the road they are on a four-game winning streak.
We’re confident on the road, feel food about ourselves in the road, Sims said. And we’re about to play two of the better teams in the CHL from the last few seasons (Bossier-Shreveport and Texas), and it should be a good test for our team to see where we are.
Bossier-Shreveport is 22-17-2. Texas is 19-13-4.