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vs. Toledo
When: 7:30 p.m. today
Radio: 1190 AM, 92.3 FM

K’s struggle to escape .500 record

For the Komets, the term “.500 hockey club” is an evil demarcation. It signified mediocrity and they have higher aspirations.

But the Komets are a .500 hockey team right now – they are 11-11-5 heading into tonight’s game against the Toledo Walleye at Memorial Coliseum – and they want to change the trend.

“We’re in control of our own destiny here,” Komets coach Gary Graham said. “It’s about what we can all do to get over this hump. We push forward and get a couple games over .500 and then we’re back to .500. We need to start finding a way to start getting over that hump and win 2 of 3 instead of 1 of 3.”

The Komets have lost three of their last four games, including a 3-2 loss Sunday against Gwinnett at the Coliseum.

The emphasis for the Komets is on creating more offense; they have scored 10 goals in their last five games.

Forward Brandon Marino was asked if it’s just inevitable the offense will come and he said, “That’s great thinking, but we can’t keep banking on that. We keep losing games and are now back to .500. We can’t keep getting up a couple games over .500 and then lose a couple games.”

The Komets are 37-14-5 all-time on New Year’s Eve, including a 9-4 loss to Toledo last year. The Komets are 3-6-0 against Toledo in New Year’s Eve games dating back to the original IHL.

This season, the Komets are 2-0-1 against Toledo (8-15-3).

Fort Wayne’s offense ranks 10th in the ECHL with 2.96 goals per game. The Walleye is 11th among the ECHL’s 22 teams with 2.85 goals per game.

“We’ve got to find a way to start putting the puck in the net and manufacturing some offense. And we have to buckle down in our defensive zone,” Marino said. “We’ve got to keep building and moving forward.”

The Komets met an obstacle Monday, when they learned definitively that playmaking center David Rutherford will not report to Fort Wayne, opting instead to go to the CHL. The Komets acquired Rutherford and future considerations from Orlando on Saturday for disgruntled forward Mickey Lang, who led Fort Wayne with 17 goals.

“You don’t (always get to talk to the player before a trade) and we don’t have a reciprocal agreement between the ECHL and the CHL, so if a guy gets traded in the ECHL and he doesn’t like it, he can go to the CHL,” Komets general manager David Franke said. “He has played in the CHL quite a bit and he indicated that he appreciated we tried to get him but he felt his career was taking a different path.”

The Komets knew they would eventually get another player from Orlando, as part of the future considerations, and they’re talking with the Solar Bears to see if they can get more now that Rutherford has declined to report, Franke said.

The Komets, who have played the last three games with only eight natural forwards, hope to add a free agent to the mix today.

They are also continuing to try and trade forward Mike Vaskivuo and goalie Cody Reichard.