A player walked into the Komets locker room Saturday night and quipped, I dont know who most of these guys are.
He wasnt alone.
With the NHL lockout over, and teams in that league preparing for training camps, the look of almost every team in the minor leagues has shifted.
The new-look Komets looked good for two periods. But they gave up four unanswered goals in the third at Memorial Coliseum and lost 5-2 to Cincinnati despite outshooting the Cyclones 47-29.
I think we were unlucky, said coach Al Sims, whose Komets (20-17-2) play the Cyclones (22-12-3) for the third time in as many days at 5 p.m. today at the Coliseum.
Their goals were not typical great goals. On their second goal, we lost a guy in front of the net, but on their third one, the puck went off (defenseman) Tyler Butlers feet and into our net. And on the next one, (goaltender Charlie Effinger) turned one over.
Cincinnati got two goals from John McFarland in the third period, one from Mike Pelech and an empty-netter from Garrett Wilson in front of 7,606 fans.
Meanwhile, Fort Wayne captain Colin Chaulk was in a local hospital after suffering a setback in the foot infection that has kept him out 20 games.
Chaulk, who has two goals and 17 points in 19 games this season, has led the Komets to five championships since 2003. His career almost ended when he missed 35 games because of a similar infection, which was MRSA, in 2008-09.
This infection isnt believed to be MRSA, and he hasnt needed surgery since the initial onset in early December.
Wednesday through Saturday were dizzying days for the Komets, who lost Thomas Beauregard to injury and six players – forwards Corey Elkins, Matt Kennedy and Garrett Klotz, plus defensemen Daniel Maggio, Nick Schaus and Ryan Hegarty – to American Hockey League call-ups.
To replace them, the Komets brought up Brayden Metz and Nick Wheeler from Dayton of the Federal League, and Jeremy Gates, John Dunbar and Ron Cramer from Pensacola of the Southern Professional Hockey League.
This a big step from the Federal Hockey League and the Southern Pro League, Sims said.
Its a big step. And they all looked good. Cramer didnt even have his equipment here yet; he was wearing another guys skates.
In the first period, there was a 2-on-2 rush and Matt Firman sent a pass from the left wing to Eric Giosa, who swatted the puck into the net with only one hand holding the stick.
Cincinnati forward Josh Birkholtz tied it, but in the second period, center Brett Smith regained the lead for Fort Wayne by redirecting a Butler shot past goalie Michael Houser during a power play.