The Komets going .500 wouldnt be all that noteworthy under normal circumstances. But its impressive they got three out of six points in three games last weekend, considering they played all but one minute, 53 seconds two men short of a full lineup.
Everyone in here is in good shape, and we all want to win, Komets forward Brett Smith said. Well do anything to do it. And its character-building, whats going on.
It started Jan. 13, when Smith was clipped by Bloomingtons Ryan Palmer. Smith missed five games with a concussion and Palmer was suspended one game by the CHL.
That led to Feb. 14 and fight between Palmer and Komets captain Colin Chaulk, whose head hit the ice in a 3-2 Fort Wayne victory. Chaulk hasnt played since because of concussion-like symptoms.
Early in Fridays game, Fort Wayne defenseman Bryan Molle began pummeling Palmer, inciting a brawl that included Bloomington goaltender Brian Mahoney-Wilson. Komets goalie Nick Boucher came the length of the ice to punch a defenseless Mahoney-Wilson, breaking his nose.
Molle and Boucher were ejected and had to sit the rest of the weekend, pending a disciplinary evaluation by the CHL. The Komets lost that game 5-4, lost to Allen 3-2 in an overtime shootout (getting a point) and won Sunday 5-3 at Bloomington, Ill.
The CHL suspended Boucher for four games and Molle for three on Monday.
Including time served, Molle can play Friday against Arizona and Boucher can play Saturday against Evansville.
But first, theres tonights game at Tulsa, Okla., the Komets first trip to the BOK Center to take on the Bruce Ramsay-coached Oliers (23-20-5). The Komets (31-16-3) are required to play two men short of a full 18-man lineup, again, because of the suspensions.
The key to the Komets success over the last three games has been to not dwell on what they dont have and not holding back, despite being shorthanded.
You just want to go 100 percent all the time. I think thats what weve been doing. Maybe sometimes you dont have it and some nights you do, said Smith, whose team is eight games into a stretch of 16 games in 28 days.
General manager David Franke said he doesnt know whether Chaulk will be back Friday, but forward Jesse Bennefield (leg) is eligible to come off injured reserve then, so he could fill in.
Notes: The Komets have already matched their win total from last season with 31. There are 16 games remaining. Smith is on a four-game point-scoring streak. Defenseman Franke DeAngelis has improved his goal-scoring in his three seasons with Fort Wayne. Hes up to 13, two more than last season.