The Komets open training camp Monday at Memorial Coliseum – it is their second season in the CHL – and there are many things to be excited about going into this season.
There are also some things that might make the fans nervous.
PLOTLINES OF EXCITEMENT
- This is the Komets' 60th anniversary season and they are pulling out all the stops, on and off the ice. From retiring Guy Dupuis' No. 2 to the traditional holiday games on Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve, there should be festive atmosphere at the Coliseum. And the last thing the Komets want to do in their 60th season is not be successful on the ice and compete for a championship.
- Thirty players will be vying for about 20 spots, in what should be the Komets' most competitive training camp since 2002. That year, the Komets were coming off missing the playoffs and would up winning a UHL championship. After being in last place most of last season, the Komets are hoping to find the players who will similarly resurrect them.
- Among the players the Komets brought in were forward Brett Smith and defenseman Jamie Milam, both of whom led Bossier-Shreveport to the CHL championship last season. The Komets still have seven players who won at least one IHL championship with them, too.
- The Komets lacked scoring from the wings last season, but they brought in two experienced players to fill that void: Jesse Bennefield and Bobby Chaumont. They combined for 57 goals in 120 games last season.
- The Komets got younger and faster to adapt to the CHL. They have 15 players in camp, who are 25 or younger, and seven who are 23 or younger. Last season, they had only three players in camp who were 23 or younger.
- Despite promising mass overhauls, the Komets still brought back 11 players from last season's team, which went 31-27-8 and was eliminated in the Turner Conference Semifinals. Some of those players, like P.C. Drouin, Leo Thomas and Brandon Warner, have to up their productivity.
- The Komets' powerful looking defense took a major hit when Simon Mangos, who played with Bossier-Shreveport last season, abruptly retired last month. He had been expected to produce a lot of points.
- Nick Boucher won three championships for the Komets, but he wasn't even in net when the season was on the line in last spring's playoffs. And last season, newcomer Kevin Beech had a 3.95 goals-against average and a .859 save percentage with Wichita, and a 3.25 GAA and .891 save percentage with Texas. These goalies must improve.
- The Komets still lack the proven enforcer fans crave every year – though David Starenky may fill that void – and it could be another season of Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock having to protect instead of score.
- The CHL is four teams smaller now – there are 14 total – and only eight teams will make the playoffs, instead of last season's 16. So, the Komets' margin of error is much less than in their inaugural CHL season.