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Strong weekend has Komets feeling more confident

Justin A. Cohn
Komets
vs. Kalamazoo

When: 7:30 p.m. today

Radio: 1190 AM, 92.3 FM

FORT WAYNE – The Komets won two of three games in Orlando, Fla., over the weekend, and though they got handled 6-2 in the finale Sunday, there is reason for confidence.

The Komets have been playing without their top two centers, captain Colin Chaulk and Brett Smith, and showing a bit of scrappiness up the middle.

“Obviously, we wanted to go down there and win all three,” Smith said. “But you have to be happy with two of the three on the road. We lost the last one, but we have to be positive after the brutal stretch of games we’ve been on.”

Smith, who has four goals and eight points in 17 games, has missed four in a row with a groin injury. Chaulk has two goals and 17 points in 19 games but missed two straight with a shoulder injury.

Both will probably be game-time decisions, when the Komets (11-9-1) play host to the Kalamazoo Wings (10-10-2) tonight.

It’s the first of four games in five nights in three cities for the Komets.

Before the Komets went on their five-game road trip to Gwinnett, Ga., and Orlando, they had lost five of six games. During the recent trip, almost all of the games had fights and heavy hitting.

“I’m sure there are a lot of things that go into it happening,” Smith said. “(Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock and Stephon Thorne) stepped up physically and, after they had sat out as (healthy) scratches at times, they wanted to prove a point, I think. They were causing a ruckus, finishing hits. And that Orlando team finishes every single hit. It was amazing. And you want to return the favor.”

On Tuesday, Schrock, goalie Kenny Reiter and defenseman Brent Henley were fined undisclosed amounts by the ECHL for actions in Orlando. Reiter’s infraction wasn’t stated, while Henley was the aggressor in a fight and Schrock had an equipment violation.

Aside from the toughness, the Komets showed versatility using Jean-Michel Rizk, Thomas Beauregard and Thorne as their centers.

“It was definitely different,” Smith said. “Obviously, Rizk is great up the middle. It took Beau a little bit of time, but apparently he had played there before. And Thorny, he’s a guy that mostly plays wing. But the second night you could notice he did better. He played really well both nights.”

Smith seemed more likely to be in the lineup tonight than Chaulk. But don’t expect either to be rushed; Fort Wayne is three games into a stretch of 25 games in 44 nights.

jcohn@jg.net

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