When the IHL and the CHL merged last summer, it brought two of the flagship franchises of minor-league hockey, the Komets and the Colorado Eagles, into the same league.
They’ve met only once this season, a 6-1 win for the host Eagles on March 11.
They’ve got quite a good team over there, and we’ve got to be ready for what they bring. They spanked us pretty good up in Colorado, Komets goaltender Nick Boucher said, looking to the games tonight and Saturday against the Eagles at Memorial Coliseum, which will close the regular season.
We’ve got to look at the film and see what happened that brought us down so quick in that game. There are some playoff implications, and even for our self confidence, we’ve got to know we can play with them, so those are two big games for us.
The Komets are coming off Wednesday’s 1-0 victory over Dayton – Boucher stopped 27 shots – and that put Fort Wayne two points ahead of Dayton for seventh place in the Turner Conference. Fort Wayne is two points back of Quad City, which also has two games remaining.
Things are muddled at the top of the conference, too. The Komets could wind up playing first-place Colorado (82 points), defending-champion Rapid City (80), Bloomington (78) or Missouri (78).
If the Komets (30-27-7) lose both games to the Eagles (39-21-4), it would increase the likelihood of a first-round best-of-five series between the teams.
Nobody knows who’s going to win the league, Komets coach Al Sims said. But the last two games are meaningful for the playoffs. We don’t want them coming in here and beating us easily in two games. They certainly don’t want us beating them twice, since we could play them in the first round and have confidence against them. I think a split with Colorado would be great for our hockey club. If we win both, that would be awesome.
The Komets are 4-4-2 over their last 10 games. The Eagles, who won the CHL title in 2005 and 2007, are 6-3-1 in their last 10.
Paced by last season’s MVP Kevin Ulanski (34 goals, 93 points) and forward Riley Nelson (34 goals, 91 points), who was selected for the all-league team for the third straight season, the Eagles epitomize the style the Komets would like to adopt as they start looking toward next season.
Some of these teams just continually throw bodies at you. Colorado did that to us. And we have a hard time holding up to that, general manager David Franke said.
The Komets want to gain some momentum this weekend, but that won’t be easy against an Eagles team that ranks second with 3.78 goals per game. The Komets defense ranks eighth, allowing 3.11 goals per game.
Note: Because there are several events at the Coliseum tonight and Saturday, it is advised those attending the games arrive early to ease traffic congestion. The Komets will give out their annual team awards after Saturday’s game. Fans are invited to stay.