FORT WAYNE – The Komets move to the ECHL had a lot to do with rekindling rivalries with nearby teams, and that will start on opening night of the 2012-13 season.
The Komets 61st season – first in the ECHL – will begin Oct. 12 at Memorial Coliseum against the Kalamazoo Wings. The teams were rivals in other leagues from 1974 to 2009.
Kalamazoo will be the most frequent opponent of the Komets – they meet 15 times – though the Komets will face Evansville and Toledo 11 times each.
The Komets and IceMen both left the CHL for the ECHL this month, bringing the ECHL to 23 teams. The Komets won the CHLs Presidents Cup and will face the reigning ECHL champions, the Florida Everblades, twice – March 8 and 9 at the Coliseum.
This schedule is very manageable, general manager David Franke said. I think weve eliminated some really long travel trips. And weve added a lot more regional games with Evansville, Cincinnati, Kalamazoo and Toledo.
Here are some important facets of the schedule:
The Komets will be in the Eastern Conference, but divisional alignment wont be determined until league meetings June 18 to 22. Based on the Komets desires and the schedule, expect Fort Wayne to be in the North Division with Evansville, Cincinnati, Kalamazoo and Toledo. They play those teams 47 out of the 72 games, including 25 at the Coliseum. The most frequent opponent at the Coliseum will be Toledo (seven times). We are fortunate to play our regional rivals several times and our fans will see 14 different teams on Coliseum ice this season. It may be our best schedule ever, Komets president Michael Franke said.
The Komets traditional holiday games remain intact. They play host to Kalamazoo on Thanksgiving for the second time, the first since 1983. And they play host to Toledo on New Years Eve for the ninth time, first since 1975.
The Komets first trips to old IHL cities are: Kalamazoo Oct. 19, Toledo Nov. 2, Orlando Feb. 7, Cincinnati Jan. 5. They will play at Elmira, N.Y., an old UHL rival, on March 22 and 23.
The Komets will fly to Orlando for three games Dec. 7-9. The Komets havent played in Orlando since leaving the original IHL in 1999. The only other trip in which the Komets might fly would be for three games at Colorado, a former CHL foe, on Feb. 6-9. Another interesting road trip for fans would be March 1 and 2, when the Komets play at South Carolina.
Twenty-six of the Komets 36 home games are on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. There are seven Wednesday games, two Thursday games and one Monday game.
Something I really like about this schedule, David Franke said, is there are (are eight) stretches of three games in three nights, less than usual.
The first two months will be tough. The Komets play North Division-champion Kalamazoo six times, South Division-champion Gwinett four times and Evansville, which was a CHL power in the regular season, four times before Dec. 1.
In other news, the Komets will not have any player signings finalized until June 16, when the ECHL allows teams to do so. And David Franke has made some calls about a possible affiliation with a higher-level team.