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The Journal Gazette

Monday, July 31, 2017 3:40 pm

Komets affiliate with NHL's Coyotes

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

After being the only independent team in the ECHL and finding a decent amount of success, the Komets are again affiliated with an NHL team.

The Komets and NHL’s Arizona Coyotes announced today they have agreed to a one-year affiliation.

“We are excited to partner with the Fort Wayne Komets as our new ECHL affiliate,” Coyotes president of hockey operations and general manager John Chayka said in a news release. “The Komets are a first class organization with a very passionate fan base. We look forward to a great partnership.”

The Coyotes’ American Hockey League franchise is in Tucson, Arizona, so players will go back and forth between there and Fort Wayne.

"It is with great excitement that we announce this affiliation with the Arizona Coyotes and Tucson Roadrunners," Komets general manager David Franke said. "The Arizona Coyotes understand the importance of a solid ECHL affiliate. We will work hand-in-hand to ensure a successful relationship. At this point in time, I feel this is the best way for the Komets to improve over last year.”

The Komets’ affiliation with the Colorado Avalanche ended last summer and the Avs' new affiliate, the Colorado Eagles, went on to win the Kelly Cup.

There was frustration from the Komets’ end with that affiliation because players were getting called up often to sit on the bench in the AHL, while the Avalanche felt some of its players should have gotten more playing time with the Komets, for instance Spencer Martin in the postseason. The Komets’ affiliation prior to that, with the Anaheim Ducks, came to an end because the Komets weren’t given as many players as expected.

"I'm very pleased on the news of the affiliation," Komets coach Gary Graham said. "I know how hard the Frankes have worked the past two summers on finding the right partner for our organization. Phoenix has been first-class since our talks have begun and I'm really excited to face the challenges ahead by working together to create a winning environment for all our players to thrive in."

The Komets, who open the regular season Oct. 14 at Memorial Coliseum against the Toledo Walleye, have signed 14 player for next season including: forwards Jamie Schaafsma, Justin Hodgman, Garrett Thompson, Dennis Kravchenko, Gabriel Desjardins, Mason Baptista and Taylor Crunk, defensemen Bobby Shea, Jason Binkley, Curtis Leonard, Cody Sol and Ryan Lowney, and goaltenders Garrett Bartus and Alex Sakellaropoulos.

Notes: Hodgman played in the NHL with the Coyotes in 2014-15. ... Tuscon is the Roadrunners which is hilarious because of the Coyote and Roadrunner thing, cartoon fans.