FORT WAYNE – When the Komets lost 6-3 on Jan. 28 at Arizona, there seemed to be unfinished business with the Sundogs.
So much has happened since then, though, the Komets hardly remember what had them so riled up.
I don’t even know if the guys remember that game, after the whole Bloomington thing, forward Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock said of last week’s games with the Blaze. Those games included captain Colin Chaulk hitting his head on the ice at the end of a fight with Ryan Palmer and a separate brawl that earned goaltender Nick Boucher a four-game suspension and defenseman Bryan Molle a three-game suspension from the CHL.
There were four fights and 99 penalty minutes at Prescott Valley, Ariz., including 27 minutes worth of penalties for defenseman Brent Henley’s late mauling of Jean-Philipp Chabot.
The Komets are 2-2-1 against Arizona, and the five games have included nine fights.
The Komets (32-16-3) aren’t concerned about retribution. They trail Evansville by three points for first place in the Turner Conference with 15 games remaining. Only 13 points separate first and fifth place in the conference, with the fifth-place team missing the playoffs, so the Komets can’t afford to sacrifice points for payback against the league-worst Sundogs (16-28-7).
We’ve had all these games going on, especially those three games last week with Bloomington, and that’s like a new rivalry boiling up. We put (the Blaze) in the back of our minds, defenseman Frankie DeAngelis said. But we’re going for a playoff push; we want to get first place. This game is important, and we’re concentrating more on winning, beating Arizona.
Last time we played them, we lost. All hell broke loose, yeah, but that was something that happened at the end of the game. That stuff takes care of itself. We just need to make sure we come out with the two points. We’ve got a really tough team, so we’re not worried about (physical games).
The Komets played almost all of the last four games two men short of a full 18-man lineup. Boucher serves the last segment of his suspension tonight.
Chaulk (concussion symptoms) won’t play this weekend; he’s targeted Tuesday at Quad City for his return. Defenseman Dustin Molle (groin) is also expected to remain out. And forward Brett Smith, the Komets’ leading scorer with 55 points, has a shoulder injury and will be a game-time decision.
The Komets could remain two men short if Smith and forward Jesse Bennefield (leg) are not available.