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•The Komets annual end-of-season party and jersey auction will be Thursday at the Memorial Coliseum Expo Center. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the auction will begin at 7. Tickets are $5. Season-ticket holders get in free.
Presidents’ Cup Champions

Victory was validation

Komets won CHL crown after winning 3 IHL titles

– 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 conference’s 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.

“I’m a big believer that it’s double-A hockey,” Chaulk said.

“I think people really out there, if it’s in Fort Wayne, if it’s in local coffee shops, if it’s the commissioners of whatever leagues, … when people get their heads squared around that double-A hockey is double-A hockey, they’ll 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 – that’s essentially what you’re doing – and you’re 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.

“It’s double-A hockey. ECHL, CHL, IHL, UHL, it’s all (been) double-A hockey. Why didn’t any other teams win? If there were six teams or seven teams, why didn’t anybody else win?”

Schrock said the problem in 2010-11 – the only time in the last five years the Komets didn’t win a championship – was the chemistry in the locker room.

“I think we’ve got more character this year,” he said. “That’s all it really comes down to. It doesn’t have anything to do with what league you’re playing in. I think double-A hockey is double-A hockey. (We proved) that.”