Though he ranks third in the ECHL with 56 points this season, there's no chance Komets forward Brandon Marino is going to come close to scoring 100 points. Like the unbeaten 1972 Miami Dolphins, that means Colin Chin can celebrate for at least another year as he's the last Komet to hit the century mark -- in 1993-94.
There's also no way Marino is going to score 50 goals, so Lonnie Loach's mark of 55 in 1990-91 is going to lack company again. During the franchise's 61-year history, there have been 14 times a Komet has scored 50 goals in a season, and 34 when a Komet scored 100 points, but they were all almost a decade into the last century. Any fan who is a college student has never seen either milestone accomplished.
Will Fort Wayne ever see another 50-goal scorer or 100-point player?
``I think it will happen again, but it may not happen this year,'' Marino said. ``If you stay consistent, it's possible. I don't know if I'll ever get there or not. It's hard to say.''
At least he's in the discussion. Ontario's Colton Yellow Horn leads the ECHL with 36 goals and 58 points this year.
Some Komets have come close to making the milestones. P.C. Drouin had 98 points with three games left in the 2008-09 season when he suffered a broken arm. Colin Chaulk scored 96 points in 2003-04. Bobby Stewart scored 48 goals in 2002-03, missing on four breakaways in his final game, and Konstantin Shafranov scored 46 goals in 1995-96.
``I believe it will happen,'' Chaulk said.
First, though, there are reasons why reaching the milestones doesn't happen as often as it once did. Players, especially goaltenders, are larger today and skate faster. Goaltender equipment is better, as is team defense. The neutral zone trap limits scoring chances, and power plays are also not as effective.
If a player gets on a hot streak, he is also likely to get called up to the American Hockey League. Scoring 50 goals or 100 points in a 72-game schedule is hard enough without losing any games. That's what has happened to Ontario's Colton Yellow Horn who has scored 36 goals in 48 games before getting called up to Manchester of the AHL.
``The CHL has a couple who get close to 100, but it's not like it used to be,'' Komets center Brett Smith said. ``It's hard to score goals. Goalies are bigger, they are stronger and faster. It's hard to score and defense is so important. Every team focuses so much on penalty kill and defense it makes it hard to score.''
The Komets would like to find a consistent scorer with scoring ability, but they also know they've won six championships since the era of Loach and Chin because of defense. It's almost easier for players to reach milestones like that while playing on bad teams where they can get more ice time and all the power-play chances.
``I think the depth of goaltending in this league is really impressive. That's going to shut down offense a lot,'' Komets General Manager David Franke said. ``I think in the minors it's harder than it ever was because there is so much movement. I don't think an older player can put that together, but the big reason that we may not see that again is because of the movement. Even if a player loses 10 games with you to the AHL, it's not going to get done.''
About the only way one player could reach one of the milestones is with help from two other players. Loach played on a line with former NHLers John Anderson (83 points) and Bruce Boudreau (120 points). Chin played with John Purves (86 points) and Kelly Hurd (84 points).
The odd thing is, every rule change from the last 15 years has been about increasing offense, from eliminating the red line, eliminating the clutching and grabbing by defensemen to increasing interference calls.
``It's tougher for D-men because they can't clutch and grab, but they are better skaters now and they are stronger,'' Marino said. ``That shows you how good the hockey is.
``It can happen, but it wouldn't be a huge surprise if it didn't. You have to stay healthy for a whole year and not get called up or miss games for some reason. A lot of things have to go perfectly.''