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The Journal Gazette

  • Lauren Lyssy | Special to The Jouranl Gazette Trevor Cheek, bottom, was one of the many Colorado Avalanche prospects with the Komets last season.  

Tuesday, June 21, 2016 10:15 pm

Source: Komets, Avs splitting up

Justin A. Cohn | The Journal Gazette

The Komets' affiliation with the Colorado Avalanche has ended after two seasons, though there was another year left on the deal between Fort Wayne and the NHL team.

Neither Komets nor Colorado officials would comment on the situation, but The Journal Gazette verified the split with someone with knowledge of the situation.

21Alive also reported the teams are parting ways, citing a source with the Avalanche.

Komets officials, including president Michael Franke and general manager David Franke, are at the ECHL's annual meetings in Las Vegas. 

ECHL teams are prohibited from commenting on such situations until an announcement is made by the NHL club.

The Komets benefited greatly from their two seasons with the Avalanche, reaching the seventh game of the second round in the 2015 playoffs before losing to Toledo, winning the Midwest Division in the 2015-16 regular season and reaching the Western Conference finals before losing to eventual-champion Allen.

However, the Avalanche's higher-level minor-league team, the San Antonio Rampage, missed the postseason this year.

The affiliation seemed to make less sense geographically for Colorado after their AHL operations moved from Cleveland to San Antonio last summer. Few expected the affiliation to go beyond next season anyway, as hockey leagues continue to restructure to make more geographic sense.

The Komets got good performances from Colorado prospects such as Troy Bourke, Garrett Meurs, Mason Geertsen, Gabriel Beaupre, Spencer Martin and Roman Will, the goalie who made the ECHL's all-rookie team in 2015 and made his NHL debut last season.

The Komets could search for another NHL affiliation this summer -- perhaps even at the league meetings -- or go back to being an independent team like they've been for most of their existence. However, they'd stated before aligning with the Avalanche that it's difficult to succeed in the ECHL without talented NHL prospects.

There was frustration at times last season from the Fort Wayne end because its roster was pillaged so much by call-ups. During a late-season Western road trip, the Komets were so short-handed that they almost couldn't field a legal lineup. Colorado repeatedly had stated satisfaction with how its prospects were improving under the guidance of Komets coach Gary Graham.

Had San Antonio made the AHL playoffs, the Komets may have been without some of their best players. Bourke had seven goals and 16 points in 16 playoff games with the Komets. Trevor Cheek had five goals and 13 points in 16 games.

The Komets also had players last season, such as Alex Belzile and Garrett Thompson, who weren't contracted to the Avalanche but split time between Fort Wayne and San Antonio.

jcohn@jg.net