By adding youth, the Komets were supposed to be faster and be a more prolific scoring team this season.
It wasn’t evident in the opening game of their 60th season in professional hockey.
With a revamped roster – only 10 players remain from last season’s squad – the Komets looked much like they did last season, losing 5-0 to the Evansville IceMen.
It soured Saturday night for a near-sellout crowd of 10,071, which was treated to a flurry of pregame festivities to mark the occasion, but not much afterward.
The only goals that were scored came from John Ronan, Brian Bicek (short-handed), Matt Gens, Steve Makway (power play) and Sean O’Connor, who wasn’t re-signed by the Komets after last season, when they were in last place until February, went 31-27-8 and were eliminated in the Turner Conference Semifinals.
About the only time the Komets’ fans got to cheer was after O’Connor made it 3-0 early in the third period, and the fighting began.
It started with concurrent fracases, as Fort Wayne’s Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock took on Makway, and Brett Smith fought Ronan.
Smith, who captained Bossier-Shreveport to the CHL championship last season, got a game misconduct for being an aggressor in the fight, but the Komets got a power play. And they thought they got a goal, when defenseman Jamie Milam’s shot from the left circle crossed the goal line, but referee Kevin Curtis waved it off because he had blown the whistle already.
Gens scored a power-play goal for the IceMen from the right circle at 5:24 of the third period for a 4-0 lead.
Soon, a fight began between Fort Wayne’s Dustin Molle and Mike Sgroi, one faceoff after Sgroi slashed Schrock, who was mistakenly assessed the penalty by Curtis.
And Jean-Michel Rizk brawled with Dustin Johnson.
Preceding the game was a 20-minute celebration of 60 years of Komets hockey, including the introduction of almost 40 retired players. Some of them were on skates, wearing their old Komets jerseys. Robbie Irons even had his old-school orange-and-black facemask.
Among the legends in attendance was Guy Dupuis, who retired this summer after 21 seasons in professional hockey, during which he played a franchise-record 945 games as a Komets defenseman.
“It kind of felt the same. I skated out there. There was national anthem and everything. I almost felt like I was part of it," said Dupuis, who captained the Komets at this time last year. “(Former teammate and captain) Colin Chin said to me, ‘You know, National Anthem, I feel like I’ve got to go to my seat and grab a beer.’ For myself, I feel like I want to play a shift here. But it would only be a shift, I’m sure.”
Dupuis will have his No. 2 retired before Saturday’s game against the IceMen.
Notes: The Komets played without backup goaltender Kevin Beech and forward Stephon Thorne, both of whom are sorting out problems with their immigration work papers. Coach Al Sims’ son, Tyler, was the backup. … Olivier Hotte, who was cut by the Komets last Sunday, was signed by Arizona. … P.C. Drouin, who was cut Thursday, cleared waivers. … The IceMen won both their exhibition games by shut out; 6-0 over Quad City and 2-0 over Bloomington. … The Komets lost their season opener last year to Rapid City, 4-0.
For more on this story see Sunday's Journal Gazette or go to www.journalgazette.net after 3 a.m.