FORT WAYNE – Since the regular season opened Oct. 22, the Komets have played only two games.
They lost to the Evansville IceMen 5-0 that night at Memorial Coliseum, simmered for a week on that humiliating loss, then defeated the IceMen 4-3 in an overtime shootout Saturday night at the Coliseum.
So, while teams usually loathe the upcoming circumstances – the Komets begin three games in as many nights by playing host to the Rapid City Rush at 8 p.m. today – Fort Wayne is actually embracing the slew of games.
We’re all excited about playing more games and having a chance to do something about a loss the next night, instead of sitting around for seven days (if there is one), coach Al Sims said. We’re looking forward to it.
The Komets and Rush had the makings of a rivalry last season, especially as their Turner Conference semifinal series went the maximum five games with Rapid City winning the capper 6-1 in South Dakota.
The series had all kinds of drama, including two suspensions, four fines and insults and accusations made by both teams toward the other.
However, this will be the first of only five meetings between the teams, and the only one at the Coliseum this season.
Both teams return eight players from that series, which snapped the Komets’ string of championships at three, though it was their first season in the CHL after leaving the IHL. The Rush, which won the CHL championship in 2010, lost to Colorado in the semifinals last spring.
The Komets, who have tried to get younger and faster since the playoffs, have been working on their cohesion this week.
We’ll have some new lines going, some new life, and hopefully we’ll keep scoring, Sims said.
On Saturday, the Komets travel to Evansville for the first game at the new Ford Center, which seats 8,800, and then Fort Wayne plays host to the Quad City Mallards on Sunday.
On Tuesday, the Komets will make it four games in five nights with a road game against the Dayton Gems, coached by Fort Wayne native Brian Gratz.
I’m looking forward to playing more games, none of this one-game-a-weekend routine, Fort Wayne forward Brett Smith said. But we’re getting thrown right into the fire. It’ll be a good test for us. We’re playing a couple good teams, but we’ve just got to come ready and build off what we did (last week).
The Komets are pleased they will have their second game with defenseman Brent Henley, whose fight with Mike Sgroi last week helped spark the Komets back from a two-goal deficit.
He’s a presence, Smith said. For a big guy (6-foot-7, 250 pounds), he can skate and move the puck. It’s nice to have a big guy back there, who you know is going to stick up for you at all times.
Notes: Forward Stephen Thorne and goaltender Kevin Beech, who had been waiting since training camp to have their immigration work papers approved, have been cleared by the U.S. government to play and will be in the lineup tonight.