The Komets may still lead the Central Hockey League's Turner Conference by one point over Evansville, but the title probably won't be decided until the final week of the season. Fort Wayne, Evansville, Quad City, Missouri and Rapid City are all positioned within six points of first place. Evansville and Rapid City also have two games in hand on the Komets and three on Quad City and Missouri.
Missouri and Fort Wayne have 10 games remaining against the other four teams, Rapid City has 12 and Quad City and Evansville 14. Missouri plays three of those games on the road, Fort Wayne and Rapid City six, Evansville seven and Quad City eight.
Adding more emphasis, only four of the five teams will make the playoffs.
The Komets have been getting killed of late on odd-man rushes. At least half the opponents' recent goals have come off long breakouts where either a defenseman or a forward is late getting back.
``Guys are getting beat and shots are getting blocked,'' Komets coach Al Sims said. ``The other teams are sacrifcing, we're shooting it into their pads and guys are taking off. It's just bad judgment by our players.''
Goaltender Nick Boucher has been able to stop most of them, but when a team is giving up three or four per game, he can't stop them all. It's an especially strange problem considering how strong defensively the Komets are as a team.
``It's a problem that we've had lately, especially on the power play,'' defenseman Frankie DeAngelis said. ``Sometimes maybe we try and make that extra play instead of keeping it simple and just getting shots on net. They always come from broken plays. Sometimes we get caught flat-footed, and they are coming in with speed and they get that extra step to beat that one guy up the ice. It all happens from mistakes. It's just which team makes less mistakes.''
Indy in the future
The Indiana State Fair Commission announced Thursday it will start a two-year renovation process for Pepsi Coliseum which could boost the arena seating to nearly 9,000. The price of the project has not been determined, and neither have the funding sources.
``I predict that when the renovation is one, pro hockey will return to Indianapolis,'' Komets president Michael Franke said. ``We are all hopeful that happens. We're excited about the possibilities.''
Indianapolis hasn't had a pro hockey team since the Indianapolis Ice left the Central Hockey League in 2004. The Indiana Ice juniors have played in the United States Hockey League since 2004.
The coliseum would be closed for two years during the renovation.
Why not leave early?
The Komets waited until Saturday morning to leave for that night's game at Evansville even though they were taking a sleeper bus because of the game Sunday in Missouri. CHL rules say teams must travel to road games within 400 miles on the day of the game. The only exceptions are if the weather is predicted to be very poor, if the game is scheduled for the morning (as the Komets' game at Quad City is on Feb. 28) or if it's for a Sunday afternoon game. Teams can also travel early if they are already coming from another road game.
The rules were stipulated so the league's more affluent teams would not have significant travel advantages, Michael Franke said. He also said those rules change during the playoffs.
The Komets are tentatively trying to schedule an legends game against the Detroit Red Wings Alumni for Saturday, March 10. There will not be a Komets Hall of Fame induction this year as part of the game.
The Red Wings Alumni beat the Komets Legends 4-1 in 2009 in the first official Komets Legends game since 1998.
Icing the puck
The Komets are 14-5-1 over their last 20 Friday the 13ths and are 22-15-2 all-time. They are 11-10-1 on the road... One good sign for the Komets is that they are 8-2-1 after losses this season... Saturday's Evansville attendance of 9,403 was the largest road crowd the Komets have played in front of since April 17, 1999 when 10,605 fans watched them in CIncinnati. The last time they played in front of a crowd of 9,000 or more on the road was March 31, 2001 at Missouri... The Komets have allowed only five power-play goals in their last 55 chances against... Starting the week, the Komets are second in the league with 43 major penalties... The Komets are 16-2-1 when they score first and 6-9-1 when their opponents score first.