FORT WAYNE – Komets fans might have worried about the teams’ 2-3-0 start this season. The players definitely did.
But now, the Komets are rolling; they’ve won 4 of 6, outscoring the opposition 28-15.
The early-season jitters are maybe out of there, said center Brett Smith, who is on a league-best 10-game point-scoring streak. And some guys needed to get the puck in the net, or get a couple points, to kind of take the monkeys off their backs. This is a good team, and there are good things to come.
The Komets (6-5-0) play host to the CHL-worst Bloomington Blaze (1-8-2) in the annual Thanksgiving Day game tonight at Memorial Coliseum.
The Komets are 31-14-4 on Thanksgiving at the Coliseum, and they’ve won three in a row.
This is the first meeting of the season between Fort Wayne and Bloomington, which hasn’t earned a point in five games and is winless since the first game of the season. The teams will play 10 more times.
Part of the Komets’ improvement lately stems from a greater familiarity among the players, only eight of whom were on the roster last season.
It took us five games this year to really find who can play with whom, coach Al Sims said. I think guys are learning to interchange with people and know how each other play a little bit more and a little bit better. We can anticipate what people are going to do.
Settling on line combinations hasn’t been helped by injuries and illness. Forward Jesse Bennefield (ankle), center Leo Thomas (strep throat) and defenseman Brent Henley (knee) all missed games last weekend, though Thomas and Henley could return today.
Sims knows that he likes playing Smith and Bobby Chaumont, who are tied for the team scoring lead with 17 points, on the same line.
I don’t know what it is about the two of us, Smith said, but we’re clicking and know where each other are, and it’s been an honor to play with (Chaumont).
Sims also thinks Colin Chaulk and Chris Auger have good rapport. And the third line of Jean-Michel Rizk, Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock and Stephon Thorne earned rave reviews from Sims after the Komets defeated Quad City 4-0 Saturday. That leaves the moving parts of Artem Podshendyalov and Tom Mele.
The Komets play Friday at Quad City and Saturday at Dayton. Sometime this weekend, it’s likely Sims will take a look at his new backup goaltender, rookie Alex Kangas, who was brought in this week to replace Kevin Beech.