FORT WAYNE – Keeping up with the Komets’ line combinations can be a bit dizzying.
Coach Al Sims was already tinkering with the lines before the parent clubs – Anaheim of the NHL and Norfolk of the American Hockey League – started moving players back and forth to the inconsistent Komets last week.
But you can bet that after a rare 4-3 victory Wednesday in Gwinnett, Ga. – it was the Komets’ second win in seven games – Sims will probably stick with what he had.
Although getting outshot 47-15 by the Gladiators, who the Komets face again tonight, could have him rethink it.
Fans had been clamoring for Sims to change his lines after the Komets lost three straight from Nov. 10-17. He finally did so, even breaking up the line of Jean-Michel Rizk, Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock and Stephon Thorne, which had been together since the middle of last season.
We had two goals in a loss, then one goal and then no goals. We really weren’t generating a lot of offense, Sims said. The lines were getting a little stale. Guys were comfortable with each other. And when you shake things up – Rizk had been with his line for a year or so – it makes people uncomfortable. It adds a little edge to their games and they want to show their new linemates that, Hey, I want to get something going here with you.’
Since ditching their early-season lines, the Komets (9-7-1) have gone 2-2-0 but have been outscored 15-12.
Line changes would have been necessary anyway because of the affiliations with higher-level clubs.
The Komets lost defenseman Gabe Guentzel to Norfolk on Monday, and the Admirals still haven’t returned defenseman Nick Schaus. But they did send down former NHLer Luca Caputi and Garrett Klotz, while the Ducks assigned Ryan Lasch, all of whom are forwards. None of them scored Wednesday in defeating the Gladiators (14-5-1), who had the highest winning percentage in the ECHL.
But the presence of the new forwards forced out of the lineup Schrock, an alternate captain, and Thorne, who have combined for two goals this season.
We have no control over who’s sent here, Sims said. They said, (Guentzel) is coming down instead of Schaus because we need him to get some playing time.’ He hadn’t been playing – he’d been in eight games with Norfolk – and after being out awhile they wanted to (get) him going (and then they took him back after three games).
Sims’ newest forward line combinations Wednesday were: Rizk, Josh Brittain and Brandon Marino; Brett Smith, Thomas Beauregard and Matt Firman/Klotz; and captain Colin Chaulk, Lasch and Caputi.
We had to figure out what the problem was (with our lines), Beauregard said. We weren’t scoring. We had three goals in three games and knew something had to change. The guys have been stepping up and working hard.
Wednesday’s game was the 5,000th in franchise history. Fort Wayne is 2,325-1,737-445 in the regular season and 257-226-10 in the postseason, including the rare postseason ties that used to happen in the original IHL.