FORT WAYNE – The Komets were tired of hearing that their championships in the IHL were inconsequential because the league had only six or seven teams when they won three straight from 2008 to 2010.
So they went out and won another championship, in the supposedly more competitive CHL. The Komets defeated regular-season champion Wichita 6-3 Monday night at Memorial Coliseum to capture the Presidents Cup in five games.
If the Komets sought validation, they certainly got it in just their second CHL season.
For the guys that played in the IHL, forward Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock said, I think, yeah, it was a motivator probably.
The Komets had six players who were part of the IHL championships – Schrock, Colin Chaulk, Nick Boucher, Leo Thomas, Frankie DeAngelis and Brent Henley. Coach Al Sims also guided the team to those titles.
The Komets transition to the CHL was difficult. They were in last place until February 2011 but have been an elite team since.
They took Rapid City the full five games in the 2011 Turner Conference semifinals, won the conferences regular-season title this year, beat Rapid City in six games, Missouri in seven and then Wichita.
If the Komets join the ECHL this summer, as they are expected to do, there will again be doubters.
Im a big believer that its double-A hockey, Chaulk said.
I think people really out there, if its in Fort Wayne, if its in local coffee shops, if its the commissioners of whatever leagues, when people get their heads squared around that double-A hockey is double-A hockey, theyll be able to just enjoy the game much more.
One could argue the Komets championships in the IHL were just as hard fought as their CHL title because of the familiarity between teams in the smaller league.
But winning in a 14-team league validated things, nonetheless.
You put the right mix together, you work hard in the summer, you recruit properly, you sell the proper goods to the team and they buy them – thats essentially what youre doing – and youre going to be successful, said Chaulk, who has been a part of five championships in the UHL, IHL and CHL with Fort Wayne, dating to 2003.
Its double-A hockey. ECHL, CHL, IHL, UHL, its all (been) double-A hockey. Why didnt any other teams win? If there were six teams or seven teams, why didnt anybody else win?
Schrock said the problem in 2010-11 – the only time in the last five years the Komets didnt win a championship – was the chemistry in the locker room.
I think weve got more character this year, he said. Thats all it really comes down to. It doesnt have anything to do with what league youre playing in. I think double-A hockey is double-A hockey. (We proved) that.